FoodTrade finalists in big open data competition
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FoodTrade finalists in big open data competition

The challenge: how can open data help people eat more healthily, sustainably, and have a more secure supply chain.


After a weekend of scrums, sprints, and serious head-scratching, we pitched a project at the Nesta ODI Food Open Data Challenge in London. The challenge was to use open data to help people eat more healthily, sustainably, and have a more secure supply chain.

Thankfully, our hard work paid off as the panel of food and data expert judges thought our idea was pretty neat. The competition was extremely high, and we take our hats off to joint finalists Vital FootPrint and OMYGOODNESS.

The craft beers were glugged in celebration, and our diaries were crammed with dates for support, development and testing (part of the project incubation prize offered to finalists).  Nesta interviewed us for their blog – you can read it here – and we’ve copied the Q and A below.


What was your winning idea?

The new Food Information Regulations act requires companies to publish allergens and nutrition information for all their produce.

We want to turn this compliance headache into a marketing and sustainable sourcing solution – because every ingredient list is also a shopping list.

FoodTrade already provides free and open tools to map the food system and provide farm-to-fork market intelligence so this is a great extension to our service.

Who is on your team?

Therese Stowell is a renaissance woman! Creator of the command line on Windows NT, MD of a veg delivery company, supply chain consultant for the Sustainable Restaurant Association, and collaborator at the Creation Weekend. Therese is a welcome new addition to the team, where she joins Lyndsey and Ed.

Lyndsey Knight is a marketing consultant in Bristol, with a background in food sustainability and communications. She joined FoodTrade in April 2014, and now runs our regular and popular food business matchmaking nights, as well as taking care of FoodTrade’s communications and user community.

Ed Dowding has been creating social collaboration systems for the last 12 years for the insurance industry, emergency services, and now the food system. He founded FoodTrade in January 2012.

How did you come up with the idea, when and what was the light bulb moment?

Someone introduced us to the legislation this summer saying how useful it would be for allergy sufferers. From there it was a natural extension to realise that it would have still greater impact as a supply chain service.

What open data are you using and how does it form an essential part of your proposition?

By helping the 56 thousand restaurants, 60 thousand pubs – in fact all and any of the half million food premises rated in the FSA data – we make it easy to build a produce demand map which we will share with our database farmers and producers across the country – helping them find new routes to market, build resilient relationships, and increase market share for fairly priced and sustainably produced food. We couldn’t do this without seeding the database with comprehensive FSA data.

How will your project help help people eat more healthily, eat more sustainably and/or have a more secure food chain?

We’ve created this solution so there’s something in it for everyone:

  • The EHOs love us because we make inspection easy.
  • The FSA loves that we alert them to new entrants and provide menu-based risk profiles which help local authorities prioritise inspections.
  • Our partners love that we drive membership and customer awareness.
  • Restaurants love it because it’s easy, drives footfall, and showcases their great sourcing.
  • Suppliers love the routes to market and the durable relationships and reduced business risk.
  • Customers love finding the food they want and from the companies who who share their values.
  • The NHS loves it because we reduce A&E allergy admissions and the environment loves the short supply chains.

A big thanks to ODI, Nesta, and to all involved! Follow us as we work on the idea over the next couple of months by following us on Twitter – @FoodTradeHQ!

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