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FRIDGFUL

A mobile application that enables users to track the expiration dates of their food ingredients, ultimately helping them better utilize their food purchases.

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Problem Space 

Household Food Waste

Problem Statement  

How might we make tracking the best before dates and providing alternative uses of food ingredients easier for working adults so that they can fully utilize purchased food items.

Problem Background  

Food waste is a crucial global issue and unfortunately households are significant contributors to this problem. According to a 2022 article by Heather Brown, Canadian households account for 14% of food waste in the supply chain [1]. A lot of the time this ‘waste’ stems from leftovers or expired foods, otherwise known as avoidable food waste [2]. Avoidable food waste refers to food items that could have been consumed if better managed [3].

In a 2022 Canadian household food waste research study conducted by the National Zero Waste Council, it was discovered that 63% of the food being thrown away by households could have been consumed [4]. Wasted food items were mainly vegetables, fruits, dairy, eggs and baked goods. This amounts to 140 kilograms of wasted food or $1300 worth of food per year for the average Canadian household.

Research Insights

To further understand the food waste problem within households, I conducted a survey amongst 59 participants and user interviews with 6 participants. The research revealed several pain points.

User Pain Points

  • 55.9% of survey participants found that food items going past their best before dates led to them having surplus food which eventually gets thrown out.
  • Two-thirds of the users expressed that their having surplus food items was due to forgetting the expiration or best before information which resulted in items going bad.
  • Secondarily, 50% of the participants expressed not having an immediate use for the forgotten food item.

USER INTERVIEW

Landing on the Solution

Based on the user pain points and feedback, it was clear that users needed an easy way to log and track the expiry dates of their various food items whilst having access to recipe suggestions or alternate usage suggestions for their food items.

Fridgful MVP

The minimum viable product will be developed with the following goals in mind

  • Enable users to easily search or scan food items after which they can manually enter the expiry dates or have the app generate a date (this will be especially useful for fruits and vegetables).
  • Notify users when food items are nearing their best before or expiration dates.
  • Provide users with alternate options on how to use their leftover ingredients.

Lo-fi Wireframes

App Mock-up

Future Steps

Looking beyond the MVP, 

  • I would like to develop the features within the app to include a meal planning and smart shopping function. I believe these additions will help further address the habits that lead to households having surplus food items that inevitably get wasted. Habits such as a lack of meal planning.
  • I would also like to introduce a feature that connects users to food banks or charities where they can easily donate any excess food items.
  • Establishing partnerships with organizations that also share the mission of food waste reduction within households.

References

  1. Food Waste in Canada: An in depth review
  2. What is Surplus Edible Food (and Why Should You Care)?
  3. Towards Zero Waste
  4. Love Food Hate Waste

Learnings

Product Manager Learnings:

Omagie Mimi Eshilama

During my time as a Product Manager within Co.Lab, I have had a lot of learnings but these were the top 3.

  • Focusing on the Problem: It’s very easy to get carried away with the solutions when looking at a problem space but I’ve learnt the importance of fully understanding the problem being worked on. Taking a problem-centric approach allowed me to keep an open mind and focus on my target audience. I discovered that the solutions can only be developed when the problem is in focus.
  • Importance of User Research: I learnt how valuable proper user research is. Specifically with user interviews, the questions being asked have to be properly crafted to uncover pain points. In addition to this, within user research, our personal biases need to be set aside, if not it can significantly affect the results.
  • Adaptability: There were a lot of moving parts during this program. I learnt to make changes quickly when necessary and embrace all the changes that came.

Designer Learnings:

Developer Learnings:

Developers Learnings:

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Full Team Learning