Developed by Wageningen Economic Research scientists, the aim of the app, called FoodProfiler, is to develop a reliable method to collect data on consumer dietary patterns.
This will help them find out more about underlying motives of consumer choices, consumer segmentation, and differences across cultures.
The team of researchers, led by Marleen Onwezen, have collected data on users' age, sex, location and health objectives, and have already gleaned a few insights for the Belgian, German and UK markets.
“Based on descriptive analyses, we see that in the Netherlands men eat dessert more often than women, and Dutch women eat more fruit per day than men,” they say.
“Young people and the elderly also seem to eat small quantities of vegetables compared with the other age groups. Between the ages of 24 and 79, we are seeing a trend of increasing vegetable consumption; the older the person, the more vegetables they eat.”
National preferences for certain foods is influenced by a range of factors, including cultural habits, food availability and traditions, Onwezen told FoodNavigator, and the findings would be useful for the food industry.
“Understanding consumer consumption and detailed insights into when, how and with what other foods products are consumed [is] very useful in developing strategies for product development and positioning.”
The app tracks detailed information on fresh products as well as processed products, although the latter is in “a more aggregated manner”, she said.
“For example not all kinds of yoghurts are included we just aggregated skinny [low-fat] and whole [full-fat] yoghurt. In this way, we get insights in consumption patterns, and it remains easy for consumers to fill out their dietary pattern.”
The app is free and available to download by the general public from online appstores.
However, the project is still at the research stage and the app will be developed further as part of the Dutch project Market Intelligence Voedingstuinbouw 2.0, which will run until 2020.