MIDS Capstone Project Spring 2018

Grocery Saver: Save Time, Save Food, Save Money!

The Problem
Studies estimate that 52% of food produced in the United States is thrown away each year; almost 30% of that discarded food is wasted by consumers. This translates into $30 billion dollars a year that consumers are effectively throwing into the trash.

Further complicating matters is the difficulty in measuring food loss. It's hard enough to estimate aggregated food loss, but it's next to impossible to study who wastes food and why. There is no centralized system that allows for the easy collection of this data, which could be critical in both understanding why people throw away food and designing ways to fight food waste.

Our Product
We have created GrocerySaver, a consumer oriented application with two key purposes. The first is to offer consumers an easy to use, tailored grocery list designed to minimize food loss. This directly helps people better control their food wastage. The second purpose is that this system allows for the easy collection of waste data that does not otherwise exist. Our product allows consumers to upload grocery receipts and note how much of each item they wasted. The next time the consumer is ready to shop, we run an algorithm to create a customized grocery list based on past purchase patterns, and then use regression to predict how much of each item the user should buy to achieve their desired waste target. Finally, we provide several visual dashboards so that users can see for themselves what foods they are wasting the most and how much money they are tossing into the trash. Our product highlights money savings because both a John Hopkins study and our own surveys corroborate that saving money is one of the primary reasons that people try to avoid wasting food. We use this tactic to incentivize users to enter their food wastage.

Potential Impact
By offering consumers an easy method to save both time and money when grocery shopping, we empower consumers to save food, time and money. A NRDC report noted that trouble making grocery lists is one issue that leads to food wastage. While there are other list making systems, they often require tedious manual entry. Using optimal character recognition to scan receipts, we minimize data entry. Our algorithm then brings up a suggested grocery list, whereas many other list-making software require the user to populate the list themselves.  Furthermore, we provide users critical feedback that allows them to better understand what they are wasting.

The second impact is that this system allows for the collection of data that was impossible before. Governments around the world spend a lot of money trying to prevent food waste, and having in-depth data regarding the patterns that surround waste could provide critical insight. This type of data collection is an opt-in system.

Last updated:

April 24, 2018