Part of the Food Tech and Social Entrepreneurship Series
What they do: By scanning the barcode of a food product, the HowGood app tells the consumer how sustainable the food is for the planet.
How they do it: HowGood uses its own research team and data sources, ranging from government agencies to nonprofits, to rate each product. Ratings include over 60 categories, encompassing criteria such as labor conditions, pesticide use, and emission history. Users can look up any item in HowGood’s database to see its sustainability score. A “Good” rating goes to a product that ranks in the top 25 percent of food products sold in the United States, a “Great” rating goes to those in the top 15 percent, and a “Best” rating is reserved for products in the top 5 percent.
Official mission: “The path to a more sustainable food system starts with transparency. We partner with farmers and food scientists to tell the story behind your food, so you can buy better. Starting with the farmers who grow it and following every step on the path to your plate, HowGood makes it easy to find foods that are best for you, your family, and the world.”
Latest project: HowGood recently announced a partnership with Giant Food, a supermarket chain which serves Virginia, Maryland and the District of Columbia. What began as a pilot program in a few stores will now be extended to all Giant Foods after overwhelmingly positive feedback from customers.
Major funding: Venture capital
Interesting fact about how they are working to change the food system: With over 250,000 products, HowGood currently maintains the largest database of sustainable food. Using its analyses, consumers can support industry leaders that are constructing a better food system. The app also encourages user input to ensure ratings of products remain up-to-date.
Origin story: Brothers Arthur and Alexander Gillett began formulating HowGood in 2006. After winning initial funding for their core research team, they implemented HowGood on a trial basis in a supermarket for the first time in 2012. Since then, HowGood has received millions in funding and has expanded to over 25 states.
How they make money: Supermarkets pay to use HowGood’s platform, placing a graphic of HowGood’s”Good, Great or Best” rating next to a product’s normal barcode. This lets customers quickly discern which products are more sustainable.
Upcoming projects: HowGood raised $4.2 million of funding in March 2017. They plan to use the funds to further develop their database and extend their ratings into cosmetic and grooming products.
Target clients: Food retailers
Location: Brooklyn, New York
Core Programs: HowGood app
Number of staff and/or volunteers: 11-50 employees
Areas served: 26 states in the USA
Director: Alexander Gillett, founder and CEO