Innovations that fight food waste: HelloFresh and Wageningen University test shelf life indicator “Keep-it”
According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, around one third of all food produced on the planet goes to waste. During its production the equivalent of 4.4 giga-tons of carbon gets emitted annually, around 8% of global greenhouse gas emissions.
Making food supply and consumption more sustainable by putting a halt to food waste is an integral part of the HelloFresh business model. But we do not only minimize food waste within our supply chain, we also aim to help our customers to minimize food waste in their homes. A study conducted by the Wuppertal Institute showed that when using our meal kits, Dutch customers save on average 20% of food from going to waste.
Another important topic in this area is to help customers evaluate how long they can use a perishable product.That is why we partnered up with Wageningen University & Research (WUR) and Samen Tegen Voedselverspilling (Together against Food Waste), a Dutch NGO leading the fight against food waste. Together we ran a successful test to measure the accessibility and acceptance of the Keep-it® shelf life indicator with Dutch HelloFresh customers.
The innovative system that saves food from being wasted
The smart sensor technology of Keep-it® constantly monitors the product's temperature over time, and shows the actual remaining shelf life. It’s an innovative alternative to the rigid and often misunderstood “Best Before” and “Use By” expiration dates which lead many consumers to dispose of supposedly spoiled food. Our sustainability team was intrigued by the Keep-it® concept and wanted to test its viability for meal kits.
HelloFresh customers successfully test Keep-it® indicator
HelloFresh conducted a survey among 1,500 of our Dutch customers. A test group who had ordered salmon recipes received their product with the Keep-it® indicator on the packaging. The control group did not receive a Keep-it® indicator. Both groups did receive a flyer with information on expiration dates in general and answered a questionnaire about Keep-it®.
The majority of consumers appeared positive about Keep-it® and indicated that they found the system reliable and useful. "76% felt that the indicator could help them to waste less food," says Gertrude Zeinstra, project coordinator and researcher at Wageningen Food & Biobased Research. With the Keep-it® indicator, more participants indicated they would smell and look first and fewer would immediately throw the product away.
Victor Smits, sustainability manager at HelloFresh in the Netherlands, draws the conclusion: "Setting up this pilot together with WUR and Samen Tegen Voedselverspilling not only means that our research is conducted to the highest standard, but also that this sustainable innovation is brought to national attention. We hope that we will be able to introduce the smart indicator for more products in the near future."