Food database in food industry{0}


By Titan T.

Database management systems are becoming important for commercial and domestic users because these help in managing data efficiently, storing large size of information and carrying out multiple tasks at a time. Use of databases in food industry is the focus of this paper and it will help in finding out trends in food databases, applications of food databases, how these are making food business more competitive and successful.

Food databases can be developed using any of available database tools like Adminer, DBComparer, SQLManagerLite, SquirrelClient and DBeaver. Food businesses are also making mobile apps to help customers in finding details about their food. For instance, Sage Project has made an application which connects the users to the food database. This app allows them to find food composition and discover how long they need to exercise in order to burn the calories present in the food item like chocolate, an apple etc. As the food databases and food apps are becoming popular, global corporate giants have started investing into the food technology business as well. These business giants see huge growth potential in this relatively newer sector.

Food is part and parcel of life and people look for meals, food products, food businesses and restaurants over internet all the time. Competitors also seek information about each other in the food industry. This leads to investments in food technology as well. AliBaba’s affiliate business Ant financial, for instance, is now investing USD 460 million into Yum China which operates under KFC and Taco Bell’s parent company Yum Brand. This project is aimed at improving mobile payment systems in food industry. This project will help food customers to pay bills easily and companies will also find it easier to manage their customer relationships through this mobile system. The project will leverage Big Data capabilities of fast food companies particularly operating in China (Lunden, 2016).

Another example of efficient food databases can be seen in the US food technology industry. United States Department of Agriculture (2015) says that the department is administering Food Composition Databases which are further connected to the USDA National Nutrient Database and the USDA Branded Food Products Database. This database lists food items, the names of manufacturers and nutritional value of the foods. The users can use these platforms to sort food on the basis of nutrient content. USDA Ground Beef Calculator is a sub-database which sorts beef products according to its fat content and method of product manufacturing. The search on this database shows what the beef content of broiled patties, pan-broiled patties, loaves, crumbles and other beef products is. The following figure shows how the platform displays food information.

Figure 1: A web-based platform which connects users to food database (United States Department of Agriculture, 2015) shows how food databases are helping commercial and domestic users to manage their business effectively or find information related to the food items they are interested in using food databases. However, these advantages do not come easy. There are huge financial costs affiliated with management of these databases. The examples of US state run databases and the AliBaba’s Ant Financial’s projects show that the food databases that are used by significant proportion of population are not developed easily, rather it requires huge funds, administrative support and management skills. Small food businesses will find it challenging to develop effective food databases. Although technology in food industry is a hot business, small business managers and owners face financial limitations and thus, their efforts are limited to development of small food apps and websites that have relatively smaller user-base.

The food databases facilitate users in accessing information and an additional advantage of these databases is that the users can manage their health and make healthy eating decisions. Heart patients and diabetics, for example, can find the fat content, sugar content and calorie content of processed food and can choose which food to eat and which to abstain from. The popularity of food related applications is increasing among the mobile users (Storm, 2016). If the databases like the ones administered by USDA are linked to mobile apps, it will become easier for the patients and weight-watchers to make rational and healthier choices. There is no deficiency of data related to food products, companies and nutrients but, the need of hour is to handle this Big Data effectively and enable apps users to benefit from this data in their daily lives so that every person using internet can access this information with ease.
Food businesses are benefitting from technology just like the other critical areas of life like sports, entertainment, health and education. People from different ages and business entities at different scales are using food databases for varied purposes. More and more technology companies are investing in this business because they find it profitable due to increasing demand. There is no dearth of data related to food products and companies. There are large databases offering nutrition information but this information can be made more presentable in the form of mobile applications and websites.

References
Lunden, I. (2016). Primavera, Alibaba’s Ant Financial dunk $460M into KFC owner’s
spinout Yum China. Retrieved from: https://techcrunch.com/2016/09/02/primavera-alibabas-ant-financial-dunk-460m-into-kfcs-new-spinout-yum-china/
Storm, S. (2016). An App to Deconstruct Your Food. Retrieved from
https://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2016/07/18/an-app-to-deconstruct-your-food/?_r=0
United States Department of Agriculture. (2015). Welcome to the USDA Food Composition
Databases. Retrieved February 11, 2017, from https://ndb.nal.usda.gov/ndb/