If you have a grocery or drug store rewards card–or if you like to buy food online–there is a big ‘ol trail of data about your purchases following you around. Instead of just letting stores use it to send you that perfectly timed coupon for granola bars, why not use it for your own purposes?
A new bootstrapped startup called BagIQ aggregates all the data that companies have about the food products you’ve bought (plus data from receipts, which can be manually entered into the system by taking a photo), spits out information about their nutritional value, finds the unhealthiest foods in the bunch, and suggests alternatives. It also offers up healthy recipes based on recently purchased items.
“Consumers can passively collect product-level data from any merchant, any retailer, anywhere,” says Matt Stanfield, the founder of BagIQ. “There’s a massive untapped wealth of data.” Bag IQ currently connects with over 100 merchants, including grocery stores, chain restaurants, online retailers, and restaurant delivery services like Grubhub and Seamless.
Stanfield, who has a background in the game development world, believes that BagIQ could be a replacement (or at least a complement) to calorie-counting apps. “We believe that it’s generally important to understand the value and quality of the food you’re buying for your family,” he says.
Looking at the BagIQ interface, it is admittedly a little frightening to see just how much data stores have about your purchasing habits. BagIQ lets you look at that data in myriad ways, separating items out by nutrition, food category, store, ingredient count, and health score. The health score is calculated based on overall nutritional value of a food.
On the main dashboard, BagIQ offers an array of data about the healthiest and least healthy foods you’ve been purchasing. A rotating list of “trouble foods” appears at the bottom; click on it and you’ll be presented with alternatives.
Alternatives to one obvious trouble food, Reese’s Pieces, include sugar-free (and non-chocolate) candies from companies like Jelly Belly and Kroger. They may be healthier, but they probably don’t taste as great. The suggested replacements for other products, like replacing Snyder’s pretzel sticks with lower-cholesterol pretzel alternatives, a little more sense (though pretzels don’t really have a ton of cholesterol to begin with).
Eventually, Stanfield hopes to partner with companies behind specific diet methodologies, like the Atkins diet. “Our interest is not being in the product scoring business. It’s supporting consumer choice on how they want to view their food. You could apply an overlay via the Atkins diet or the paleo diet or some other scoring system to create a view that’s important to you,” he says.