Food Information in the Digital Age

This is a description of a software solution developed for Riordan’s SuperValu in Fermoy, County Cork. It addresses the need to provide nutritional and place-of-origin information for unpackaged food products.

The Problem

Consumers are demanding more information about the food they buy: Does this product contain gluten (or any one of a number of other food allergens)? How many calories in a serving? Was the chicken sourced locally? In the case of fish, was it caught at sea or farmed? With packaged food products the information can be provided on the package, but how do you approach this with unpackaged products?

The problem is particularly acute for high-end grocery retailers who stock a wide range of non-prepacked products. Up to now, the solution has been to make nutritional information available as printed spreadsheets, often held together in a ring binder. Finding the details of a particular product can be challenging for shoppers, and managing reams of spreadsheets can be a challenge for food safety managers.

Is this the best we can do in the Digital Age?

Our Solution

We built a web-based software system that enables food retailers and their suppliers to work together to manage information for non-prepacked products in an efficient and reliable way. Suppliers manage their own product information; the retailer manages their made-in-store products. The system merges all this information and presents it in a format the shopper can easily use:

  • On touchscreen information points on the shop floor, satisfying the requirements of EU Regulation 1169/2011;
  • On the Web, for home deliveries;
  • And on smartphones, for the customer’s convenience.

The system can be viewed online at www.thefoodregister.com.