Sustainable Food Management

Sustainable Food Management

The global concern about food security and sustainability has brought attention to areas of food waste across the food supply chain (FSC). According to research although food waste is realized throughout the supply chain, in developed countries households generate the most food waste. Therefore, a key challenge in reducing global food waste lies in the reduction of household food waste. The study intends to investigate household food waste using technology to initiate behavior change towards a sustainable use of household food. Thirty participants were given access to FoodTrek, a mobile phone application developed for this research which was used for alerting participants with regards to end dates of food items in their home. After using FoodTrek for four weeks, there was a 10% decrease in food waste across all products and participants agreed that getting reminders before the food went out of date was instrumental in them using food products before the end date. This gave a positive view to explore further development of this prototype App

The design of the FoodTrek App was based on research and participant feedback in which participants gave information about what they liked most in applications. Taking into consideration user’s needs during App development increases acceptance and helps the developer to identify positive user experiences [13]. The focus on the design was on the primary functions so that users could easily find information on navigation and also on functionality to deliver on the purpose of the App. The initial design included some important features outlined in sub-sections A to D, however some of them may change following evaluation of the next phase of the FoodTrek prototype

A.The traffic light prompt systemA traffic light system was adopted due to its use in the food industry, where the traffic light system is already used to make healthy food choices by indicating unhealthy levels of some nutrients in food, therefore people are already familiar with the sequence. [5] The use of the traffic light system to color code food labels provide people with clear information about the food they are eating such as using the colour red for high levels of undesirable nutrients like saturated fats. For this project the traffic light system is intended to help users make informed balanced choices about the way they use food after getting alerts about the end date. Figure 4 illustrates the FoodTrek alert system

B.Scanner systemThe current food labelling legislations does not require the end date and name of the food product to be in the same place therefore the information must be scanned individually and merged during storage in the App calendar. Using figure 5 as an example the FoodTrek App will be used to scan the name of the food product first and then the end date.

The App should be able to read the date labels and product name on the packaging by using the scanner. Scanning will be done using camera based Optical Character Recognition (OCR) and related technologies. OCR is described as the process enabling the identification of scripts in user’s communication captured by a digital camera and this used in combination with Magnetic Character Recognition (MCR) recognise patterns of the alphabet and numeric values [13]. The mobile App will store the information scanned such as like Expiry Date, Best Before, and Name of Food Item in the App calendar.

C.User login and profile settingDuring download users are required to read and agree to subscriber data policies as well as the terms and conditions which specify the scope and rights of responsibilities in the use of data by both parties. When downloaded the FoodTrek App will give information about the personal data that will be used and the manner in which it will be used. Users can log in using the option that is best for them from the list provided in figure 6 and by creating a password to secure their account.

The User Profile on the FoodTrek App can be created after signing in using the methods such as (1) Email and Password Login (2) Facebook Login (3) Google Login (4) finger print login. Once the user registers on the application and have read the agreement policies they are able to create an account and profile. The user profile can later be used to identify favorite foods, shopping lists, amount of food wasted. It is important that users need to gain trust in the software by having control of the information shared within Apps on their mobile phone and with others [14]. The importance of android’s use of manifest permissions has been fully supported, for example, when an App asks permission to access contacts the user is alerted, and they can give or deny permission. FoodTrek will use manifest permissions to allow users to keep control of the information they share within their device and with others [15].

D.Reminders and alertsThe information stored in the User’s profile will include Name of Food Item, end date which can be either “Best before” date or the “Use by Date” depending on the food item. A flow chat of events is shown in figure 7. Day 3 represents 3 days before the expiry date of the food item and day 0 is the last day to use the food item.

Once the Food item passes the end date, the user will be prompted (using notifications) to scrap the food item or if it is a Best Before date the user is advised that the food is perfectly safe if they are satisfied with the quality. Users can share his information on Facebook and Google if they wish to. Users can also see the total spending on food items, if they are interested in tracking their spending and cost of food waste. The product weight function has been included for people who use food item weight as a form of diet control. Storage instructions can be entered as a reminder for people who forget or who have no knowledge of how to store the food item. When users log in they will be able to customize the functions to suit their needs.

E.User interface The FoodTrek interface (figure 9) will show total food items scanned and still in circulation under total items as well as showing the food in end date order with the earliest at the top. It also gives the user the 5 products with the earliest end date from the saved list so that they are aware they need to use these first. The colors on the interface are meant to be engaging to the user during their interactions in order to generate interest and continued use of the App. The FoodTrek App was designed with the aim of finding information easily and the different colors could be used as references after a few interactions. Punchoojit and Hongwarittorrn [16] believe that interface usability is crucial because if users are not satisfied they will seek alternative solutions. They outlined three outcomes to achieve interface usability: (1) the interface should be easy to familiarize at first contact to gain user confidence, (2) user objectives for choosing the App should be achieved, (3) users should be able to find their way around the interface and it should be easy to recall how to use it on subsequent visits. Using the closing post diary interview evaluation (phase 4), FoodTrek will be assessed on these three outcomes as participants gave feedback on their user experiences

FoodTrek was developed on an android Linux platform which is security focused and programmed in Java. Android has Open Source (OS) features like memory sharing combined with efficient multitasking. By using user identities and file permissions the resultant model is a multi-user server with individual Apps siloed from each other [18] . A siloed App is a software functioning in isolation to solve problems or perform tasks and is not able to communicate with other unrelated systems [18].