It all started as a hobby. Ivo Dimitrov, a software engineer, simply wanted to track his family’s food shopping habits, ensure cost-efficiency in his food spending and prevent food waste. This led him to test out several shopping apps. Unfortunately, all the apps that he used lacked what he felt was a vital feature – tracking food expiration dates.
This led him to design a system that integrated everything he wanted in a shopping app, keeping tabs on his food groceries and tracking what happens to his pantry inventory. The development process took a lot of effort and resources. But Ivo realized the potentials of building his own app and its possible impact on reducing, if not eliminating food waste.
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“As soon as I started, I soon found out that there is a big demand for this solution among my friends. I saw a lot of articles especially in the United Kingdom… that are talking about food waste and how much food is being thrown away,” Ivo said. Noting the significance of the app and with a mission to “do good”, Ivo left a high paying job and committed himself fully to developing his mobile app.
In 2016, Ivo started work on the CogZum app. According to him, “CogZum is a digital shopping list combined with a catalogue of everything that you buy. It is different from the traditional shopping list app [as it] basically allows you to synchronize with another person in your household to make a shopping list together so you don’t forget anything in the supermarket. On top of that, everything that you buy, the system tracks the food for expiration time.”
Aside from these, CogZum has a host of other features:
1. It allows the quick creation of shopping or home inventory lists. The user can quickly input grocery items and its corresponding quantity, drawing from a rich product database. The app even provides help in determining food expiration dates.
2. It allows the automated creation of a shopping list based on a user’s purchase information, his “Favorites”, “At Home”, or Reuse” lists.
3. It creates a searchable inventory of all items available in the home that the user can use to create meal or shopping plans.
4. Food expiration tracking includes “days to go” number and “use by” dates. Alerts are also set for food that’s about to expire.
5. The app provides information about the last product purchase that includes consumption time, quantity bought and amount wasted. This allows the user to properly plan what and how much to buy.
6. It provides detailed reports of food waste, with graphical representation of consumed food vis-à-vis wasted food.
Currently, CogZum is available for free for iOS users in the United Kingdom, Ireland and Bulgaria. It can be downloaded from the Apple App Store or by clicking here. To further understand the food waste app’s features, watch the video below:
The development of CogZum and similar apps are important especially in developed countries such as the United Kingdom and the United States where food waste is a big issue. In the UK alone, The Guardian reports that a staggering £13 billion (about US$17.4 billion) worth of food is thrown away each year. This is equivalent to 4.4 million tons of household food waste which results to 19 million tons of greenhouse gases.
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Ivo points out that while there have been various initiatives from supermarkets and even farmers to reduce food waste in the retail chain, the problem is on the consumer level. “People are looking, they want to have this problem solved but there is nothing right now that can help them,” he said. In fact, The Guardian notes that an average UK household throws away £470 worth of food on an annual basis. This makes CogZum and food waste apps all the more significant.
“This is the end goal. [For CogZum] to make an impact for households, for the environment, for the economy and for the whole planet because there are a lot of forests that are destroyed for growing food,” Ivo emphasized.
What do you think about the potentials of CogZum and similar apps in combating food waste? Do you agree that it can help families significantly reduce food waste? Do you have other ideas that should be explored to achieve zero food waste? Let’s start a conversation.