Soniya Ashar, founder of the UAE’s first food data intelligence software NutriCal, reveals why there’s more to a recipe than chef and ingredients.
Tell us a bit more about NutriCal.
NutriCal aims to equip food businesses with pertinent information they can use to attract and retain customers. With dynamically changing trends in the consumer preferences and increased competition in the food industry, the recipe management software serves as a beneficial and differentiating tool. Features include a QR Code Digital Menu, Macros Chart & Label Generator, Nutrition Facts Label Creator, Menu Management Dashboard, Food Costing feature and more.
What are you essentially offering the GCC market, and the UAE in particular?
We serve the different parts of the food industry with our proposition – restaurants, cloud kitchens, food delivery companies, hotels etc.
So, if you’re a restaurant that wants to highlight the calories and health benefits of their food via digital and physical menus, a food brand that wants to use the solution to develop products and generate Nutritional Fact Labels, or a cloud kitchen or food delivery company wanting us to integrate technologies in order to provide the end consumers with user-friendly and relevant food data, we’ve got the product for you.
Moreover, the product is especially beneficial in countries such as Saudi Arabia, where publishing calories on menu cards falls under the regulatory framework for food establishments.
What’s the importance of this product in the wake of COVID-19. specifically?
Given the unprecedented time that the world is going through, we have seen a surge in demand for consumers seeking greater transparency into sanitization and food offerings by restaurants.
The NutriCal platform seamlessly integrates with existing F&B businesses and enables them to offer visibility for their customers with respect to nutritional and caloric information of food items for more informed decision making.
Moreover, consumers are looking for ingredients, food items and products that help you boost your immunity. For example, turmeric and ginger or food items that are rich in zinc and Vitamin C. The NutriCal system helps food businesses create these dishes and products and highlight the same to their consumers.
How do you think the product will help small businesses?
We have seen that small businesses in the F&B industry have suffered due to the coronavirus pandemic. The ones that survived are, and will continue to be, cognisant of three things: food businesses’ focus shifting to online, health and immunity, and that differentiation tactics to create consumer trust and retention are key.
The NutriCal solution enables you to understand and deploy information about your food in a user-friendly format via social media and other mediums. By understanding the caloric, nutritional and other benefits of the ingredients you use – a food business begins to adjust offerings, making them healthier.
Moreover, we strongly believe that transparency in the food industry to gain consumers’ trust is key to be able to stand out, which is possible through data and information sharing.
How does the product contribute to sustainability efforts?
In the food industry, sustainability revolves around reducing food wastage and bolstering health and wellness.
Health, immunity and longevity are key aspects of NutriCal as a business. Through the power of information and data intelligence, we aim to create awareness among the population, thereby stimulating health and, ultimately, sustainability.
Additionally, in recent years, we have seen red meat and processed food consumption plummet due to their adverse effects on one’s health and environment. Again, through information sharing, we’re able to directly/indirectly do the same.
We believe that, when businesses are able to create more fitting food products and menus using our solution, it results in the overall reduction of food wastage.
What’s in the pipeline?
At the moment, our key focus is to continue developing our product by bettering our technology and adding relevant features, all of which is possible when we’re able to gain traction and partner with businesses in the food industry. We make sure to listen to our clients’ problems and unique requirements and collectively figure out solutions.
Geographic expansion to GCC markets such as Saudi Arabia, Oman, Bahrain and Qatar is in the cards. Our long-term vision is to ‘use data and intelligence to match a business’s food product to consumer’s goals and preferences’. Hence, all efforts will be directed to work towards the same.