April 13, 2011 – Foodia, a San Francisco-based startup, is building the Yelp for food products.
The company recently launched its free-to-use website (www.foodia.com) as a tool to help consumers navigate the food system. The goal? To help users eat better by making it easier to shop for food.
The site breaks down the important issues related to our day-to-day consumption and puts them in an easily digestible format: all foods—from boxes of cereal to Brussels sprouts—have specific pages with four basic components: basic product info, a health score, a section on environmental impact, and reviews or relevant links as posted by users. The unique approach combines both user-generated content and algorithmically-derived health and sustainability metrics to help consumers find good food.
The Foodia team, comprised of Stanford and MIT graduates, designed and built their application to be the consumer’s go-to resource for food decisions—from “what to buy?” at the market to “what should I eat for breakfast?” Realizing that the current crop of online food resources is highly fragmented and decentralized, the Foodia founders decided that what was needed was an authoritative hub of food information.
“As consumers we’re faced with 250 food decisions everyday, and we put a lot of conscious and subconscious mental energy towards figuring out what we’re going to eat—usually that means finding foods that are tasty, or sustainable, or healthful. But we haven’t had that easy-to-use tool which organizes it all and puts it in one place,” notes Founder and CEO, Max Haines-Stiles.
“Foodia will fill that gap, providing simple, easy to digest food information to save you both time and mental energy as you try to figure out what to buy and eat.”
The Foodia team believes that the average American consumer has been lulled into a “food coma” by an overabundance of options. With the average supermarket containing 50,000 stock-keeping units (or SKUs, in industry parlance), a food shopper can fall into a routine of buying the same items every week, taking chances on new items which they probably won’t like, or making time to arduously sift through what the team describes as the “marketing chaff” on food packaging.
Another option, of course, is that they could use Foodia.
“I like choice, but I was tired of having too many food choices without really knowing which items were worth it. It almost feels as though shopping in a modern supermarket is like a game of roulette: you hope you get lucky and aren’t wasting your time or money. I can use Foodia to beat the odds,” says an enthusiastic early adopter.
Although the site has been seeded with roughly 100,000 products uploaded by partner retailers, users can easily add foods to the database should they not be able to find what they’re looking for. Indeed, the team feels that user-generated content—whether in the form of item adds, flavor tags, or simple user reviews—will be a driving force in bolstering the site’s relevancy over time.
The team aims to release a mobile app in the next few months, thereby optimizing the Foodia experience for shoppers looking for information on the go. They also plan to continue adding SKUs as well as detailed product information to their database. Says Haines-Stiles: “The food universe is huge, and we still have a lot left to explore. But our goal is to reduce the amount of ‘uncharted territory’ for the average food shopper. We want to put everything there is to know about food at a users’ fingertips.”
“Shop better, eat better. Together.”