Target’s future lab focuses on food transparency
In its collaboration with global design firm IDEO and MIT Media Lab, Target’s Food + Future coLab last week unveiled its first two innovations with a focus on food transparency.
Opened in January near MIT’s campus in Cambridge, MA, “the bustling lab full of bioengineers, students, nutritionists and farmers [are] hard at work testing big ideas about the future of food,” Target said on its Bullseye View blog. The multi-year collaboration, first unveiled last November, is concentrating efforts on urban farming, food transparency and authenticity, supply chain and health.
The first of the two ideas developed by the team focused on food labeling. The line, Good & Gather, displays ingredients on the front of packaging rather than in fine print on the back.
The second, aimed at providing real time nutritional information, allows people to scan fruits and vegetables, learn the exact nutritional value and then pay based on freshness.
Greg Shewmaker, one of Target’s “entrepreneurs-in-residence” who formerly drove food innovation for Tesco, said in a statement, “We’re building disruptive technologies and — most important — we’re closer than ever to helping people know more about what’s in their food.”
Other projects that the Food + Future coLab is working on:
- City farming “across multiple scales of an open platform” is being explored in partnership with MIT Media Lab’s Open Agriculture Initiative;
- With the assistance of spectroscopy experts at Ocean Optics, a platform is being built that can “see” inside food to evaluate everything from nutrient levels to contaminants;
- MIT Media Lab’s Laboratory for Social Machines is helping “map the global conversations related to food” by analyzing billions of public data points, including brand communications, traditional and social media messages and supply chain information.
Said Target’s chief strategy and innovation officer Casey Carl. “We’re working at a pace we could only achieve by putting all the right people in one room — from retail experts to bioengineers — and then giving them the freedom, autonomy and resources to make things happen.”
- Target Begins Testing Concepts from the Food + Future coLab – Target
- Target Launches Collaboration with MIT’s Media Lab and IDEO to Explore the Future of Food – Target
Was it smart to make food transparency a major focus of Target’s Food + Future coLab? What do you think of the first two ideas? What other areas around food innovation should the Food + Future coLab work on?