Skip to main content

Algorithm for healthy eating habits

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MENUTERRANEUS (Algorithm for healthy eating habits)

Reporting period: 2015-06-01 to 2015-11-30

"Menuterraneus has developed a platform, both web and mobile, that helps users plan their weekly menu, thus helping them to acquire healthy habits. Specifically, Menuterraneus has developed an algorithm able to automatically generate a nutritionally balanced menu, making it complementary to the school menu that children receive in their schools. Thus, responding to the question that all European families make every day ""What will we eat today?""
We have conducted a market research to determine the technical and economic feasibility of the roll out of Menuterraneus into France, Germany and the UK.

The results show that, while it is a very appreciated tool from nutritionist perspective, there is very little interest from end users. Only 5% to 15% declare to plan their dinner ahead and 2% to 8% would be interested in our app. Also, adapting our algorithm to each market would require major changes at a significant cost. Given these challenges we believe, that at this time, it doesn’t make sense to try to extend our platform to other European markets. It would be very difficult to find enough critical mass to justify the required investment or support from third parties.

Nonetheless, our interviews with different players, mainly schools and parents, have led us to identify a new opportunity. There is a need to improve communications between schools and families. Communication tools are key to improve education methods and relationship between schools and both parents and students

1. To study eating habits in the European Union, to lay the foundations of project developments in a European context.
 Search and contact partners (nutritionists) in the different countries, which will be subcontracted to help in the study of eating habits. Menuterraneus has already identified three possible partners:
o France: Societé Française de Nutrition
o Germany: Deutsche Gesellschaft für Ernährung e.V.
o UK: The Nutrition Society
2. To study the technical feasibility to evolve the current algorithm to the customs/habits of each of the selected countries.
3. To specify the necessary investments for the development of the previous points and to address the needed changes to the application and its contents. A work schedule will also be estimated.
4. To evaluate the market fit of a system as proposed in those EU representative countries through a proof of concept and to identify the adequate partners.
5. Finally, ways of monetization in each different country will be studied.
6. An analysis of associated risks (barriers, competition in markets, regulatory standards, etc.) and an analysis of the management of intellectual property generated, will be performed.
1- Eating habits in Europe: France, Germany and United Kingdom
After reviewing the eating habits of UK, France and Germany, we have identified three common recommendations, which are also common to Spain:
- 5 a day. Eat at least 5 vegetables or fruits every day
- Limit salt, sugar and fat intake
- Increase fiber consumption
But all these guidelines are too generic. When we go into detail, eating habits differ significantly across Europe. The basis for each nutritional basis is completely different, both in terms of meal categories and relevance of each meal.

2- Algorithm specifications and other platform adaptation requirements
Considering all these new inputs, our development team believes that it would make sense to have different versions of our algorithm for each country. This separation would allow for a better approach to the specific requirements and need of the consumers of each country.

3- Market fit
We have conducted a survey among potential users of our application in each country, with special focus on families with children. The main goal of the survey is to identify user interest in an application like Menuterraneus.
Results show that a small percentage of people would pay for this service. Given that there is little interest in this type of service, there is not market fit enough to justify the required investment, both in terms of product development nor in customer acquisition.

4- Business model validation
Menuterraneus is a web and app service. In Spain it is free for users. But each market is different, so we wanted to evaluate the viability and potential of several monetization alternatives. Considering that entering a new market requires a long and costly development, we believe that a market should be entered if, and only if, a client has been found and is willing to take on development costs and maintenance costs. Otherwise, there is too much risk and effort associated with entering a new market.

5- Work schedule and necessary investment
We have identified the licensing model as the only viable model to roll out to new European countries. Total investment is expected to be approximately 191.000 € per market. It is obviously a significant investment that would only be committed after a client has been found.
There wouldn’t be any staff based in any country until sales are confirmed.
- Nutritionist in all countries believe that, from a theoretical perspective, such a tool would be very helpful. But, at the same time, they state that many significant changes would be necessary to adapt our current platform to their specific market requirements.
- Also, eating habits in each country are substantially different, making it not feasible to use the same platform for all markets.
- Each market would require their own set of new rules to run the menu planner algorithm so to meet the own rules and regulations in terms of nutritional recommendations and eating habits of the end users.
- From a technical perspective, major changes would be required to the existing platform.
- New databases would be required and several existing databases would have to be adapted or substituted.
- Most current platform web pages and app pages would need to be adapted.
- Testing would also have to be done at a local level, gathering feedback from nutritionists for each country.
- Very little effort in one particular market would be useful for other markets. Development time and cost would be similar to building a new platform for each market.
- Our estimate is from 6 to 9 months of platform developing and testing for each country.
- It is possible that this situation would repeat itself when trying to go roll out to the rest of European countries. Development costs would make it non-viable for smaller countries.
- Most people in the targeted countries don’t plan their meals ahead, from 5% to 15% depending on the country. For most people, planning ahead is simply choosing from the fridge the previous day.
- School menu is mostly ignored in dinner planning.
- End user interest in a menu planner app is small, ranging from 2% to 8%.
- Only a very low percentage of potential user would be willing to pay for this type of app.
- Business model is limited to licensing the product to third parties. Advertising model, coupons model and freemium models are not feasible under current end user interest.