We’re currently growing enough food to feed 10 billion population but, at the moment, one-third of the food produced in the world gets wasted. Waste occurs at each stage along the supply chain but, particularly at retailers. Fresh food losses at grocery retailers can be as high as 15% due to the fixed expiry date on the package. But, these expiry dates are often inaccurate and over-cautious, leading to food being binned when it doesn’t need to be.
Mimica is creating the next generation of food expiry labelling that reduces food waste and improves food safety. Their first product Mimica Touch is a patented freshness indicator that experiences decay at the same rate as food because it contains waste materials from the food industry. It provides accurate, real-time indication of the product’s freshness with a tactile interface.
The solution is simple: the user runs their finger over the top of a tactile label. When the surface feels smooth, it means that the food is still fresh, and when bumps can be felt, the food is no longer good for consumption.
"If you think about it - we’re all kind of ‘blind’ to when our food really goes bad, which is why we waste so much."
The main material is a gel, set as a solid layer concealing plastic bumps. Mimica “maps and matches” the gel to deteriorate at the same rate as the food in the package, adjusting to varying temperature conditions along the way. When the gel breaks down and becomes a liquid, the user can clearly feel the bumps underneath, which accurately indicate food spoilage.
Mimica is also a great example of inclusive design. “Right from the start, we’ve built Mimica to have a positive social impact,” says Founder Solveiga Pakštaitė. “In this case, the issue of expiry dates was looked at with a visual impairment lens, but if you think about it - we’re all kind of ‘blind’ to when our food really goes bad, which is why we waste so much.”
Following a successful proof of concept work with the dairy industry in 2018, the first version of Mimica Touch is being finalised and the market pilots will launch later this year. Mimica aims to sell the labels at around 1 penny per label, a price which is critical for achieving scale and therefore impact.
“The need for a disruptive packaging technology intervention is widely recognised,” says Pakštaitė. “We expect the introduction of Mimica Touch to cut waste in half in stores”.
But, they don’t plan to stop there. Mimica aims to create affordable freshness indicators for all types of perishable products like pharmaceuticals, and eventually, to become the globally recognised mark of freshness for industry, consumers and communities.
Designers: Mimica - United Kingdom
UN SDGs: Zero hunger & Responsible production and consumption
Mimica Touch from The Index Project on Vimeo. Music: Lee Rosevere