Victor Penev conceived the idea for Edamam in 2010. An entrepreneur and passionate cook, he wanted to create a link between food and technology. After ten months of brainstorming and market research, Penev identified a pressing issue facing consumers.
“I realized that a major problem that can be solved with technology is the lack of information about the food people eat and how it impacts their health and well-beings,” Penev explained. Furthermore, he found that food and nutritional data was often nonexistent, contradictory, or incomplete. Penev wanted to find a solution, so he founded Edamam with the mission to organize the world’s food knowledge and give it back to people so they can make smarter food choices and live healthier and happier lives.
Penev began by offering consumers healthy recipe suggestions and diet analytics. However, it was soon discovered that consumers expect nutritional information and meal suggestions to be free, so Edamam pivoted to a business-to-business model. The company now provides nutrition data services to food, health and wellness businesses. Edamam’s clients include food manufacturers, restaurants, grocery stores and caterers. “Everybody in the food supply chain is a potential customer,” Penev said.
Edamam provides a wonderful service for restaurants to add nutritional data, allergen and diet tags to their menus as well as revamp menus in an effort to create healthier offerings. For a restaurant, the default solution of hiring a nutritionist is a slow and expensive proposition. Edamam essentially automates the process and makes it fast and affordable. There are two levels of service. The first is a self-service, in which a customer can input their recipes online and receive the nutritional analyses in real-time for $22.95/month. The second option is the “white glove service.” This level of service provides the customer with a human nutritionist that uses Edamam’s data to provide nutritional and diet information for the restaurant’s recipes. The white glove service charges $20.00 per recipe. Edamam offers these services to individual operators, chains, and caterers.
Penev has created an excellent concept in an increasingly health-conscious age. In addition to consumers opting for healthier meals, recent legislation has also encouraged restaurants to consider the nutritional values of their offerings. Edamam has clients that wish to make adjustments in order to accommodate the health conscious consumers, as well as restaurants that must make menu modifications to satisfy the legislative requirements.
In the health and wellness industry, Edamam works with companies that manage diets either for people with chronic diseases or for wellness and lifestyle management programs. The company is able to provide meal suggestions customized to a diet’s specific requirements, whether it is related to an allergy, health condition, or lifestyle choice.
Edamam also provides restaurants with valuable information for diners with specific needs or requirements. Many of Edamam’s clients are restaurants seeking guidance on accommodating allergies, or creating lifestyle specific offerings such as paleo or low sodium, for example. “Helping restaurants work through their menus to accommodate allergies and other special dining requirements is one of the areas in which we are most helpful,” Penev said. Edamam has the capacity to provide valuable insight into all allergies and lifestyle or belief-driven diets.
Individual chefs can use the Edamam service directly. In fact, it can be quite beneficial for chefs that change their menus frequently, seasonally, or daily depending on the ingredient provisions available at the time. Penev explained that well-organized and proactive chefs stand to benefit greatly from the Edamam service. Chefs that keep a Word document or Excel spreadsheet with their recipes can simply copy and paste them into Edamam and receive real-time nutritional data. Once processed, a recipe is stored in the cloud and can be accessed from anywhere and adjusted quickly.
Penev rejects the notion that healthy and tasty are mutually exclusive. Concerns have been raised regarding the effect that creating healthier offerings has on the taste profile of a menu. Restaurateurs and chefs are always considering the balance between the taste profile and profitability. However, Penev does not believe that creating healthier options necessarily affects taste or profitability. “I believe that to be a false dichotomy. A meal can be healthy and very delicious at the same time. I’m not a believer that there is a trade-off,” Penev stated.
Edamam is an innovative company that has come around at a very opportune time. The data that Edamam offers the food industry is more valuable and beneficial than ever. Penev recognizes the opportunity, and is poised to play a tremendous role within the food sector. “I would like Edamam to become the nutritional engine behind every business within the food industry. Restaurants are very important to us as they serve over 50% of meals eaten in the United States. We’d like to be the company providing nutritional data for all of these meals, from which both restaurants and consumers will benefit,” he said.
For more information on Edamam, visit their website. The Edamam app is also available for download via Apple or GooglePlay.