Team:Groningen/market research


Market research

We have constructed a prototype of the The Food Warden sticker, containing our modified Bacillus subtillis. It could be developed into a potential product. Therefore, we decided to conduct a market research survey where we asked the respondents questions about their general food habits and if they would be interested in the Food Warden as a possible product on the market. We also asked if they would consider using a GMO-containing sticker next to food as a safe practice. We used the surveygizmo survey engine for this task.

The respondents

We received a total of 338 responses to the survey. Most of our respondents (58.3%) were 16-25 years of age, 27.8% of age between 26 and 40, and 13.3% of the respondents were older than 40. Only few respondents (0.6%) were younger than 16 years of age.
This portrays our respondent group as a young crowd, in fact we recruited many of our respondents from student body of our university (from multiple faculties - these are not only biology students).
We only asked our respondents if they are biologists or biology students in the second run of the survey, but since we used the same channels to ask for the responses, we can estimate that the total fraction of biologists and biology students in our survey is proportional to the one obtained in the second run: about 16.4% of our respondents were biologists or biology students. The exact demo- and geographical spread of our respondents can be seen in the full report (available for dowload at the bottom of the page).

The vast majority (76%) of the respondents answered that they go grocery shopping on their own, and they cook on their own. Also, most of them (91.1%) buy their meat at the supermarket. The biggest group of the respondents buys meat two to three times a week (36.4%), or almost everyday (27.5%). Overall, more respondents buy food products in smaller amounts, only what they need immediately, even if it costs more (53.6%) compared to buying bigger ("family") packages to save money (46.4%).

Best before dates and food waste

The opinions of the respondents on "best before" dates are split: 60.4% does not think that such dates give an accurate measure of food edibility, while 39.6% believe they do. According to our survey results, many of the respondents throw away food - if they are not certain if it is good - relatively rarely (once a month - 46.8%, never or almost never - 18.9%). However, roughly a third of the respondents admit they do that often (30.5% - few times a month, 3.9% - more than once a week).

Food Warden as a potential product

86% of the respondents would like to use a product like the Food Warden sticker to indicate whether their meat is good to eat or not, out of which 70.1% would like to be sure if their meat is safe to eat, and 11.8% would be able to save money through buying bigger meat packages.

Interestingly, 68.7% of all respondents are willing to pay extra for their meat to include such a product, 5-15 eurocents or more.
Moreover, 82.5% of the respondents would like to see a product like Food Warden on the market; 11.3% like the concept, but wouldn't use the product; only 6.2% think such product is not needed.

GMOs next to food

Since we were asked by many people about public perception of using GMOs next to food, we asked our respondents a very important question: Considering all of our safety measures, would you think the product containing GMOs would be safe to use next to your food? 54% answered yes, and 38.8% were not certain and would need to learn more about the safety measures. Only 5.1% of all respondents do not think it is safe.


We were positively surprised how enthusiastically many of our respondents reacted to our concept and the project. Among the feedback, we got some very thoughtful ideas about features that Food Warden would need to have as a product, but also many heart-warming messages (we keep the original spelling, mostly):

There is nothing more harmful about the bacteria you used than one that might get on my food from whatever surce including myself, for as far as I know you are not using a bacteria that is pathological in any sense, and the proteins produced by the bacteria will not be harmful either. There is no biohazard.

Save consume with FoodWarden! This is GOLD if you succeed and keep on trying to conquer the market. Just go for it!

I find it a very elegant system, because it prevends us from thoughing away good perfectly fine food.

It should be an European standard. You never know what producer, re-seller or retailer did with 'best before' dates. And most meat doesn't have it. On the other side 'best before' dates are not really a deadlines, so a lot of food is wasted, because it had reached its 'best before' date, but it is still eatable

I like the idea, and I think a lot of people will benefit from the product. Especially people who throw away food too soon with the only reason that it is at the expire date but still fine to eat

something like that should be standard

It is very useful. I would like to see products associated with this idea.

Very good initative-hope it will be a hype on the market !

It's good to know for sure if your meat or other products have turned bad. This way you can discard the best before date and just watch the indicator. It would be especially cool if there would be different levels for the state of the meat, eg. yellow for OK, orange almost rotten etc. Further I would very much like such a sticker for fish.

I think it's a really good idea. I don't like to throw away food, and I think this sticker will help me to throw away less food (meat).

Even though most the respondents of our survey say they do not throw away food often, they would still be interested in our product. It is also very surprising to see that almost none of the respondents reject the product immediately because of GMOs, even though they would have to put it next to their food, in their fridge. We think that the perception of GMOs in the society is changing and is growing in acceptance, as long as it is closely watched and controlled. People realise that insulin for diabetic patients is produced by GMOs, and that many crops and vegetables are genetically engineered. Even among the oldest respondents (age 40+), 38.6% would consider the product safe, and 52.3% chose the answer "maybe".

In general, our respondents were interested in the product as a food safety indicator, even if they do not throw away large amounts of food before due date, even if they do not suffer from food poisoning often. Interestingly, most people would like to pay a considerable amount of money extra to have a sticker like that included with their meat, and that underlines that there is a need for a product like Food Warden on the market.

Click to download the full survey report
Click to download survey report for ages 40+

Cost estimation of the sticker

As our survey shows, two-thirds of our respondents are willing to pay a couple of eurocents extra to have a Food Warden sticker included in the package. Therefore, we estimated the costs of producing the 0.5mL sticker using the materials we chose and under the assumption that we grow the bacteria on our own using a batch fermenter setup. The total costs of a single sticker, excluding production plant set up costs, add up to roughly 3.5 eurocents.

Click to download the full cost estimation