Foods

Can Personalization Solve The Food Waste Problem?

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), an estimated 133 billion pounds of food is wasted in the United States every year, which costs $161 billion. From leftovers that have spoiled in the fridge to blemished fruit left on the counter, consumers throw away an enormous amount of food. However, food personalization may offer a solution. Joel Montaniel, CEO and co-founder of SevenRooms, Kevin Brown, CEO and co-founder of Innit, and Tobias Peggs, CEO and co-founder of Square Roots, talked about personalization in recent interviews.

“We used to drive around with paper maps, and it was a stressful experience, but things got a lot easier with GPS and real-time traffic updates. Every part of our lives is getting digitized and personalized, and the way we eat will also evolve. We will not need to squint at food labels any more. Our groceries will be automatically selected and screened based on our diet. Our kitchens will help us use food before it goes bad, cutting down on the $1,500 that families waste on food each year,” Brown says.

Personalization will make cooking new meals easier with voice AI and guided cooking videos to show you every step. Automated cooking programs will give people the confidence to purchase a wide variety of ingredients and put them in the oven with minimal preparation to achieve restaurant-quality results every time. All of these innovations will reduce food waste by making sure every meal you create is the right portion size.

Refrigerator. Photo by Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images photo credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images

Refrigerator. Photo by Linda Davidson/The Washington Post via Getty Images photo credit: The Washington Post/Getty Images

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Personalization has benefits beyond your kitchen, and commercial cooking in restaurants will also take advantage of it. Montaniel believes highly personalized experiences will help companies compete for consumers’ attention and reduce food waste at the same time.

“In fact, food is just one piece of a successful hospitality recipe. The future of eating out will focus on the experience: How guests feel when a host greets them by name or when the server remembers their allergy or food preference from a previous visit. Guests have begun to expect expert recommendations from staff based on their personal tastes, and this consumer behavior will only continue to take center stage in the future. Hospitality operators that are recognizing and understanding this shift in the landscape, which is already happening, will continue to be successful in the years ahead,” Montaniel shares.

Peggs believes that the personalization of food will create multiple possibilities for improving consumers’ health and cutting waste. Imagine eating meals that are customized for your activity levels, weight and dietary preferences or allergies without wasting hours on reading labels or putting together complicated recipes. Technology can reduce meal prep time while providing you with the perfect portion sizes that reduce leftovers.

“We are already seeing data-driven personalization in products like supplements. And with controlled climate agriculture, you can see a pathway to do that with fresh produce too. Could we grow kale with a nutrient profile that is different for a marathon runner versus a computer programmer that tastes the same and is non-GMO, simply by altering environmental parameters like light, temperature and humidity? We are just at the beginning really,” Peggs says.

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