Anyone with a special dietary requirement can look forward to an easier life with a new app called Pinto. All US shoppers need to do, is download the app, type in their specific diet and start scanning labels at the supermarket.
Diabetics can use Pinto to see if a product has added sugars and how much fibre it has compared to carbs. Someone trying to manage heart health can see if food is high in sodium or saturated fat. Someone with irritable bowel syndrome will get a warning if food is high in lactose or fructose. If you’re on a keto diet, it will focus on net carbs, fat, protein, and sodium.
Co-founder Sam Slover first developed the platform as a NYU grad. Slover felt nutritional information – when available – was not all that consumer-friendly.
Pinto’s database was built from scratch, working directly with food manufacturers and grocery stores like Whole Foods, Kroger and Campbells. It includes around 100,000 items, representing the top-selling 85% of food products in the United States. The data science engine takes all of the raw nutritional data and classifies it against specific consumer needs – the database currently counts 100,000 items or 85% of top-selling US food products. It also considers information that isn’t shown on standard nutritional labels, such as added sugars.
Pinto can also be used to track meals. Just take a photo of your lunch, and the app uses AI to recognize what you’re eating and estimates the nutrition, tracking that not just against calories but also against your specific dietary needs.
According to Slover, it’s a reflection of where the food industry is headed. Consumers are looking for healthier food, they’re making choices based on their identified “food tribe”, and the industry is becoming increasingly digital. “The data that we’re producing about food in terms of how it powers personalization, and getting the right product in front of the right consumer, is one of the harder and more interesting challenges in grocery, in nutrition, and food right now,” he says.