ProgrammableWeb initially covered FoodEssentials in 2012 when its LabelAPI matched around 75% of scanned product labels from developer partners. Since then, its database has grown to include the lion's share of all products sold in the U.S. market. As FoodEssentials gets ready for another SXSW, ProgrammableWeb caught up with FoodEssentials’ Tyler Olsen to learn more about LabelAPI’s success, growth and future.
When asked why FoodEssentials launched LabelAPI, and why it continues to expand its capabilities, Olsen responded:
We are releasing LabelAPI to simplify building nutrition-based applications for developers. There is no single source of product label data in the market that is sufficiently up-to-date and accurate to build serious applications upon. We wanted to make our data available to feed the innovation taking place in health and diet applications in the U.S.
FoodEssentials’ target audience is expansive and limited only by consumers’ desire to gain more information about the food they buy and eat. LabelAPI was created for:
People who are looking to easily access greater amounts of information about their food than current mobile applications, internet resources and in store signing provides. Generally the applications that are being built on nutrition and ingredient data are limited to very basic functionality. LabelAPI provides developers with more granular and detailed data than is presently available, such as searching and filtering by allergens, additives or any of over 8000 ingredients.
Since our initial coverage of LabelAPI, the API consumption options and API capabilities have expanded. The routes to market with LabelAPI now come in multiple flavors:
We offer a free version of our API, which allows developers to utilize our data on their applications for up to 1000 calls /day. From there, we have a premium version which allows for an unlimited number of calls/day for a yearly flat fee of $1000. From there we offer our enterprise API, in which we work with developers to customize the information they are looking to provide to their audience—for example, a deeper level of analysis around allergens and marketing claims and the ability to categorize products based on customizable attributes as ‘gluten-free’ or ‘heart-healthy.’
One of the exciting new improvements to LabelAPI is the addition of our Data Collection API which will provide developers with the ability to include data collection as a service as part of their value proposition to their users. This will allow their users to take photos of products that we may not have in our database which we will then digitize, ensuring that everyone has access to the data relevant to them.
LabelAPI has now been around for some time. Current clients include mobile application developers, retailers, media companies and more. However, FoodEssentials envisions greater reach and more integration partners in the future. Olsen provides the following examples as potential candidates:
Allergy scanners: Scan a product and see if it is gluten-free or heart-healthy. Ingredient scanners: See if the product contains a specific ingredient which is connected to deforestation.”
FoodEssentials will continue to measure the success of LabelAPI by the number of users accessing and utilizing the data to drive decision making. In addition, FoodEssentials will continue to improve its market-leading database by measuring the percentage of UPC calls that match its database. It anticipates that the addition of the Data Collection API will improve its current rate of 80% to more than 90%.
To conclude, Olsen shares FoodEssentials' straightforward but impactful goal:
Our mission is to make vast amounts of food label data accessible to retailers, brands and developers as well as government entities, while keeping it simple to analyze.