Market and patent research
3D modeling and rendering
PROBLEM & OBJECTIVE
The average American household wastes 31.9% of the food it acquires, estimated to be $1866 per year (Yu & Jaenicke 2020). This is extremely frustrating for people because of the amount of food waste they produce and money that is wasted. My goal was to design a fresh produce storage product that allows users to maximize the shelf life of their produce, ultimately reducing waste.
I interviewed 7 people about their experiences storing and consuming fresh produce. Each described frustrations with the amount of food they waste.
I also conducted secondary research to better understand the scientific process of food spoilage, as well as learn about existing methods and hacks for extending the life of produce. Common practices include freezing, pickling, and vacuum packing produce. One key finding, however, was learning about modified atmospheric packaging, where the atmosphere inside food packaging is modified to extend its shelf life. An inert gas, such as nitrogen or carbon dioxide, is used to flush air out and reduce the oxygen levels in a the package. This method is used extensively at the commercial scale in order to sell food, but I hadn't seen this method adapted for the home.
“Cilantro comes in such a big batch. I can’t eat it fast enough before it turns brown."
“When I have to throw out food, I get really sad. That was good food that could’ve been eaten.”
“Im basically throwing out money, and I have to go grocery shopping again…It’s really frustrating.”
“My mom loves eating arugula, but it goes bad every time. It gets mushy and rotten… I hate throwing out food when I could’ve eaten it.”
Concept Development: Modified Atmosphere
Moving forward with the modified atmosphere method, I explored ways to perform this at home. Using a carbon dioxide cartridge or tank (commonly available for , users can flush out oxygen from a container. Designs for the delivery device included one that would live on the kitchen countertop or a handheld version that could be stored away. I also brainstormed ideas for food storage containers, such as specialized rigid containers or reusable bags.
Works-like Prototype and Testing
I created a works-like prototype of my product and put it to the test with apple slices.
After analyzing the current market and conducting a patent search, my product is differentiated due to its use of modified atmospheric food storage specifically for home use. It fills a gap in the market because it is more efficient in extending the shelf-life of food compared to other products and can be offered at a higher price point.