Smartphone scanning: the new app that awards products based on ethics

Supermarkets can use the app to highlight how their products perform on issues like health, the environment, chemicals and animal welfare.

20 June 2018
animal welfarenutritionpackagingsustainabilitysupermarketstechnology
image credit: a_namenko/iStock/

Say hello to a sustainable shopping companion that you can access from your pocket or bag.

It comes in the form of an app called Giki, which has 12 different badges that it awards to products for everything from being locally sourced to offering a healthier alternative in terms of fat, salt and sugar.

Shoppers can use it in supermarkets by whipping out their smartphones and scanning barcodes via the camera.

The app covers 250,000 shopping products, with most eligible for six or seven badges.

So how can this help supermarkets?

Confusing labelling

The badges cover areas that consumers have recently expressed concerns about. In fact, a Food Safety Agency report earlier this year, revealed that top food issues were nutrition, pesticides and additives, along with food waste and animal welfare.

Giki’s badges are given to products for credentials like organic, no chemicals of concern either to health or the environment, recyclable packaging, free from additives, animal welfare, no animal testing, responsibly sourced and a low carbon footprint.

The app was designed by husband and wife Jo and James Hand, who were frustrated by food labelling, particularly as nutrition guidelines and ingredients could be opaque.

Jo Hand tells Food Spark that it is confusing for consumers to understand whether products are aligned with what’s important to them.

“It takes an average of two minutes to read a label, and even after reading it can be hard to understand. In addition, some want information that is not available on the label – for example around chemicals of concern,” she says.

Consumer choices

A combination of on-pack information, scientific research and government guidelines are used to provide the badges, which cover most supermarkets, but with the notable exception of Tesco, Aldi and Lidl own-brand products (Giki can't currently access their product information).

Hand says there are advantages for supermarkets being involved in the app.

“This enables them to compare their own-brand products against others – often they perform well – and to demonstrate to consumers their focus on issues that consumers are increasingly concerned about, namely healthiness, buying British/local, environmental impacts, chemicals and animal welfare,” she says.

If a consumer scans something that doesn’t rate that well, Giki also lists alternative products that have more badges. 

“We are already seeing users change their product purchases as a result of using Giki,” says Hand. “We'd like all products to get as many badges as possible, so that it is easier for consumers to make healthier, more sustainable choices.”

There are also further badges under consideration like seasonality, which could be introduced in the next couple of years.

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