Why develop FoodProfiler?
Measuring food consumption and understanding the factors that determine consumer behaviour is difficult and often takes place in an unstructured and ad hoc way in Europe. No infrastructure exists to systematically collect this data. There is a growing need among governments and businesses for detailed information on consumer eating habits that can be used to shape policies and strategies in the fields of health, sustainability, product development and marketing. This information allows us to monitor vegetable or meat consumption, for example, in order to understand the policy impact.
Technological developments such as apps offer countless opportunities to collect data in an international context. This data can be used to carry out studies on consumer behaviour in relation to food consumption patterns. Wageningen Economic Research is currently developing a new method for collecting data on food consumption patterns.
Wageningen University & Research developed the FoodProfiler app to identify food consumption patterns in the Netherlands. The app sends random reminders to have users enter information about what they ate in the past two hours. They can indicate whether they had a snack, lunch or a full meal and what exactly they ate (e.g. salad with apple and goat cheese). Once the profile has been completed, they will discover what type of eater they are. For instance, users may learn that they eat a lot of vegetables and very little fruit compared to the average profile, or that they consume a relatively healthy diet but can make improvements.
The app is based on existing scientific knowledge. Wageningen University & Research uses existing product categories that consumers find logical. The app measures what consumers ate in the last two hours and collects this information over an extended period of time. Given how easy it is for consumers to enter their information, the resulting data is extremely reliable.