FoodProfiler - Companies

Organisations in the food industry make decisions about new products and marketing campaigns without having an accurate understanding of consumer eating patterns. In other words: how, what and when food is consumed. They use intensive processes, trial-and-error methods, inaccurate sources and low-quality figures.

Why develop FoodProfiler?

FoodProfiler is an app that large groups of consumers can use to enter the food they have eaten. This gives us insight into consumption patterns and helps us understand who ate what and how and when it was eaten. The near-time registration over the past two hours, the long-term measurements and the large groups of consumers provide an abundance of reliable information and insights. This method therefore makes intensive processes and inaccurate sources unnecessary. FoodProfiler provides insight into who eats specific foods and what, where, why and how this food is eaten.

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 with which 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.

Current status

Wageningen University & Research developed the FoodProfiler app to identify food consumption patterns in Europe. 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's 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 Dutch profile, or that they consume a relatively healthy diet but can make improvements.

The data

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.