Frigo Magic is a smartphone application designed to help people cook recipes based on the ingredients they already have at home in their fridges or pantries.
According to data from the European Parliament, 88 million tonnes of is food wasted per year in the European Union – with households accounting for 53% of this total. Addressing waste at a consumer level has therefore become an increasing priority for policy makers, environmentalists, food industry stakeholders and innovators.
The Frigo Magic recipe database was initially developed in 2015. It bills itself as offering quick, simple and economical recipe inspiration with a focus on cutting food waste and in the process saving money.
This initial mission is being extended in response to feedback from its 1.2m users, Burel said. “We are listening to our users. Some of them began to talk to us about nutrition, diet or carbon footprint in 2018.”
Transparency and nutrition data
In early 2019, the group introduced a functionality that calculates the Nutri-Score of ingredients and total recipes, increasing transparency on the nutritional profile of meals. “Our users interpret [the information we provide] as they want, but the response has been very encouraging. Some even ask us to filter the recipes by the Nutri-Score.”
Nutri-Score ranks foods from -15 for the 'healthiest' products to +40 for those that are 'less healthy'. On the basis of this score, the product receives a letter with a corresponding colour code: from dark green (A) to dark red (F).
The application stores recipes and ingredients data based on average values for generic ingredients and exact values for “partner ingredients” – food manufacturers and retailers that Frigo Magic works alongside. It then uses the Nutri-Score formula developed by the French government to provide consumers with guidance on the nutritional profile of what they are cooking.
“Nutritional content data can be accessed directly from the application on the recipe when touching the Nutri-Score,” Burel explained.
Recipes can be modified and ingredients substituted to alter their Nutri-Score and improve their nutritional content, he continued. “It is useful for the consumer to evaluate the impact of one ingredient over another? Indeed, our recipes can be modified according to the available ingredients, the user can replace for example the "crème fraîche" with "fromage blanc". The Nutri-Score is then recalculated automatically.”
Working with food makers
Frigo Magic works alongside various agri-food partners, who provide additional and specific detail on their products and increase their brand exposure to the app’s users. “We enable our agri-food partners to highlight their brand and their products in the application.”
The company’s partners also receive access to all-important data on what consumers are cooking, what ingredients they are using and how they are utilising the app, Burel revealed. “[Our partners] have the option to access to our users' data concerning the recipes, the quantities, the ingredient combinations as well as the Nutri-Score,” he noted. All of its current partners are French agribusinesses.
The app is available in French and English – but the English version does not yet include the Nutri-Score option. The French version is available in France, Belgium, Canada, Switzerland and North Africa, while the English app is available everywhere else.
According to Burel nutritional data could be added to the English version – and the company has lots of further innovation in the works. “We have many other innovations in our pipeline but we prefer to keep them to ourselves at the moment.”