Food Industry Information App – Knight Group 2

Knight Group 2: Chris Cyr, Jaclyn Waara, Caitlyn Climes, Jennifer Wardell


Project Title: Food Industry Information App (FIIA)


Requested Amount: $10,000

Expected Amount of time to Complete Project: 1 year


Describe your Project: 500 words


Our project is to create an app for your phone that will produce information about any type of food that you can photograph or any packaged food that has a barcode label on it (especially for processed foods and foods that can be linked to certain companies, corporations, farms, etc) in order to give the public a tool they can use to identify what they are putting into their body and how that food affects processes both within their bodies and also in the world at large. When you take a picture of your food within the app, it will then provide you with data and articles about the environmental impact of the food, how sustainable it is, how much water, electricity and natural resources go into producing it, nutrition facts, the company the processed it, and information on that company. This way you would not only just know if the food you are eating is good for you, but also if the company that makes the food is good for the environment. There is currently no app on the market that does this. Having a system that is able to summarize, organize, and compile information on food and how it impacts the environment would be groundbreaking. Moreover, the app will thoroughly investigate into how the environment is affected by particular foods by informing the user about how many gallons of water were used to make the food and how much energy was used both in the production and in the transport of that food item before it reached you.  All of this will be provided on a very easy to use interface within the app and will also have the option to save what you look up so that you can access it again later if you want. If you use the app continuously, it can also compile your information so that you can learn how much energy you are using per day just by what you eat. The app will also not only provide statistics, articles and information, but also pictures and graphics about impact or about where the food comes from. This will be for learning, but will spread information well to those that do not want to read all of the information that is provided.  All of this will promote consciousness within the population so that people can learn their impacts on the environment and since the app also provides you with nutrition information, it can appeal to a wider audience. The awareness and knowledge this project could spread among the public has not only the potential to change the way people view their food and what they put into their bodies, but also to revolutionize the way the food industry functions today.











What unmet need does your product meet? 200 words


Every new invention must meet a need that has yet to be provided.  This app provides an easy way for consumers to see what is in there food, where it comes from, and its impact on the environment.  Currently, in order to figure out all of this information, a number of searches need to be conducted and sometimes accurate information is not obtained because the information for the actual product cannot be found online, but only for a similar product.  By taking pictures of the product or barcode, this confusion is avoided and makes it possible for products to be identified and analyzed accurately.  There is also not currently any interface that provides all of the information about the environmental impacts of a product, especially of both the product and the company that makes the product.  This is an entirely new idea and is something that people should be aware of.  It is understandable that it would be hard for this app to become widespread, however, if it is just an app that provides articles about environmental impacts and awareness.  However, we believe that adding the aspect of nutrition factors to the app will make it appeal to a broader audience of those who are trying to lose weight or to be healthier in general.  Once people download the app, then they will be forced to at least look at the pictures of the effects of the food on the environmental and this may peak some interest or at least cause broader awareness.


Interview four potential users of your product about this unmet need. Do not tell them about your idea. Just explore their need. What did you learn? Include names and contact info for interviewees and a few words describing each — age, gender, occupation, town where of residence. Go for variety. 200 words


All interviewees were paraphrased in the segments below:


Tom Zidar, male, 22, UofM Student, Ann Arbor – I generally don’t have access to this kind of info and am not interested in searching for it. If I had easy access to it, maybe I’d realize how important it is.


Tyler Samuels, male, 22, UofM Student, Ann Arbor – Often times at the cafeteria I wish I had more than just nutritional information. I feel like there are several options with the same calories, fat content, protein content, etc, but only one has the smallest environmental impact. Having environmental info would definitely guide my food preferences.


Nell Weber, female, 21, UofM Student, Ann Arbor – Is there a consumer need for environmental impact information on food? Not really. Maybe if companies started labeling their products with environmental info then consumers would see how important this type of information is, but as it stands I don’t think most people care about it.


Morgan Kernohan, female, 21, UofM Student, Ann Arbor – I think it is important in the sense that I need to know what I am consuming. I am more concerned about what I am intaking more so than how it affects the rest of the environment, but I think they correlate. I also think being more aware would help make me care more about the environment and be more conscious of what I am eating.


Janelle McClelland, female, 21, UofM Student, Ann Arbor – I think this would be interesting and definitely not something that I have thought about before. That would take a lot to do, I think. For example, how would you identify everything in the picture?


How big is the potential market for your idea? Mention sources for any statistics you use. 100 words


This app will be made for all iOS systems. According to Apple, over 800 million iOS devices have been sold, including iPod touches, iPads, and iPhones. The main target is the iPhone, since users tend to have this with them during every meal. However, it is conceivable that iPads and iTouches could be used during meal time as well. If given the resources, we would also like to use Droid phones as well.


How is your idea innovative — new or different from something already existing? Name your closest competitors – 200 words


The closest competitors would be other diet apps that are out there that provide nutritional information about food.  There are no competitors on the aspect of the app that provides information on environmental impact of food and so anyone interested in this topic would also be interested in getting the app as long as it provides accurate and interesting information in an easy to understand way.  However, on the topic of competing with other apps that provide nutritional information, it would be important to focus on the interface of the app in order to make sure that people find it aesthetically pleasing and easy to use.  I believe that adding pictures will add to this and make it unique from other apps.


How will your idea be financially sustainable? 150 words


Sponsorship from B-corporations that would help promote their products and introduce app users to the idea of b-corps. Advertisements from business outside the food industry could be included in the app if needed. Promotions and partnerships between the app and companies or organizations interested in its outcome and success would also be valuable in keeping this project financially sustainable. If needed, we could also charge money for the app after a (potential) free trial run of the application. Later in the future, if this app takes off amongst users, we could encourage food companies to put their bar codes on their products to advertise that they are environmentally friendly and that they are not afraid to put their information on this app service, hence increasing the number of partnerships this project has with companies across the food industry and keeping it financially possible.





Why are you and your team the right people to develop this project?  100 words


We are the right people for this project because of the experience we bring. Although we come from different majors here at the University of Michigan, we all have an underlying passion for the environment, the very component this project aims towards improving. Food connects all of us, and the knowledge gap of how the food we consume affects the environment has still yet to reach a majority of people. Our goal will be to not only inform the public about how food affect the environment, but to ideally change their perspectives about food and to make them care more about what they consume. Visual aids will help in making this a reality. With our deep rooted commitment and sense of responsibility to improving our natural world, we see this app for food and sustainability as a common thread and driving force for change in the world relating to the environment. Our team feels this is an innovative outlet for impact that has yet to be addressed and has great potential.



6 Responses to “Food Industry Information App – Knight Group 2”

  1. Overall, this project seems like a great idea that could benefit the general public. Since another group has a similar idea, maybe you could find a way to make this project more unique. A possible idea would be to offer alternatives for products that are not healthy and/or environmentally friendly. This would allow people the opportunity to change their bad eating habits without the trouble of researching their favorite foods online.

    After discussing with some people in class about the price of an app, you may need to raise your “requested amount.” Especially if the app is free, you would need more financial resources to get this product on the market. You should also clarify in this application whether or not the app would be free. You could even incorporate a “deluxe” version of the app that costs money, but offers more resources.

    I also found the your interviewee, Janelle, made an interesting point. How would everything in the picture be identified? You want a barcode on each food item at the grocery store. How would you get companies to cooperate with this mission, especially companies that are not very sustainable? Maybe manually inputting food items would be a more realistic option, and you could have an online database that provides all the necessary information about food items, which would be accessible on the app.

    There are lots of possibilities for this project to be life-changing for many people, especially those who do not understand the personal and environmental risks associated with certain foods. I hope you win, or something similar to this comes out in the near future!

  2. I like this idea a lot. Recently with concerns as to how the meat industry is regulated and how animals are treated, I have found myself at meijer a couple of times wanting to get chicken but also wondering what type of industry I was supporting. I tried, through my cell phone, to look up where Katie’s Best chicken comes from, but to no avail in that moment. This app could have actually helped me identify what I wanted to buy in a really efficient, conscious way. An issue might be with sponsorships is that your application could turn into another advertisement wasteland, and you would have to be careful how many ads you put in that would overwhelm the efficiency and purpose of the app.

  3. Hey guys what an incredible idea! Initially I thought this was similar to the idea of the app “myfitnesspal” but the incorporation of the environment portion along with the bar code scanning portion makes it incredibly unique. Having an app that accessible would definitely help a lot of people with grocery shopping strategies, and essentially lifestyle changes, which is on a lot of minds recently. The app additionally takes a lot at the environment which is, in my opinion, one the greatest threats to man kind as we know it. I also love your reasoning for choosing this idea and how food brings all us together.

    What is your target audience? That may be something that you guys take into consideration when you look at the group of people you all chose to interview. By that I mean you may want to think about other people that do not go Michigan or people that are not in their early 20’s. Something else to consider, is do you really want your target audience to be limited to apple? You’re essentially cutting a large sum of people that could also have access to your application. Have you guys thought about partnering with Public Health organizations such as the WHO or the CDC, because I would definitely classify this as a preventative health care measure.

    Overall this is definitely a great idea, and I hope you guys work to make this happen.

  4. giancarlobuonomo Reply March 28, 2016 at 9:55 pm

    Hi guys,
    This is a really cool, ambitious idea. I like the direction you’re headed in concerning sustainability and energy usage. I think a lot of us are easily fooled by labels that say “Organic” or “Humane,” and don’t take the time to investigate individual brands. I think branding might be the strongest path to pursue — like you said, I might know something about peas in general, but not about “Jolly Green Giant.” I also like the article idea, even if it just gives people something to read in their spare time.

    I have two questions/concerns. First, like Lauren mentioned, how will this app identify food? Even at somewhere corporate like Whole Foods, vegetables are often poorly labeled or unlabeled, especially things that you portion yourself (onions, carrots, nuts, etc). Second, will this app be a litmus test? In other words, if I take a picture of a bag of apples, will the app say “Sustainable/Not Sustainable” or just give me info? I think giving Yes/No answers could be beneficial, because it both guides harried consumers, and forces companies to adopt your standards.

    I’m excited to see this — Good luck!

  5. I would absolutely use this app, great idea! I have similar questions to those above, though. How would eating out at restaurants tie into this? A lot of your target audience members log their meals in fitness apps, and eating out wouldn’t be any exception. It also might take a fair amount of undercover research to get this to work, since food companies don’t want to be entirely honest about their products.

  6. Hi, Jaclyn, Caitlin, Chris and Jennifer. This is a really useful idea, but it does seem challenging to implement. I think the previous comments have given you some excellent suggestions about implementation stumbles to consider. At a very basic level, how will the photos connect with information you’ve collected? So, please think about the questions raised here and come up with some credible answers.
    Again, good thoughts here. The devil is in the details. I look forward to hearing how your ideas develop on this.

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