Dutch crowd-sourcing platform, Roamler, is introducing subscriptions for specific fruit and vegetable categories to the sector at lightning speed. First up was the Berry Monitor for soft fruit at the end of 2020. The tomato and exotic fruit monitor followed fairly quickly. And this summer, people can also subscribe and monitor other fruit-vegetables.
For more than ten years now, Roamler has been providing detailed information and photos via a smartphone community to parties - from breeders to retailers - throughout the fruit and vegetable chain. They make all the European supermarket product data transparent, and subscribers get weekly updates about products' current states. Everyone can, therefore, get a clear overview of price, origin, packaging form and size, supplier, and the product's instore quality.
So-called 'roamlers' - people who visit retailers all over Europe once a week - generate this data. They use their smartphones to provide insight into the shelf situation based on questions and photographs. "That's displayed in Power BI, so the data is real-time and accessible in the dashboard. You can easily view and download all the photos from the online environment", says Christiaan Rijnhout.
Breeders, cooperatives, exporters, and retailers subscribed to the tomato monitor. They also showed interest in a monitor for other fruit-vegetables like bell peppers, cucumbers, and eggplants. "These can be purchased as the entire fruit vegetable monitor or separately, making it more interesting cost-wise. The prototype is now ready, and next month we'll start the fieldwork. We'll begin by monitoring bell peppers, cucumbers, and eggplants at supermarkets in the United Kingdom, Germany, and Poland."
But it is not going to end with fruit-vegetables; the banana category is next on the list of products to be monitored weekly - separately or as part of exotics. "Bananas may seem very manageable at first, but a lot is happening, especially regarding sustainability. That makes it a very interesting product to start monitoring in stores across Europe. The standard banana assortment is fairly regulated, but there's a need in the market to map out Execution issues, such as in-house promotions," Christiaan explains.
As with the earlier monitors, a quality component will be added. "For each product, we ask our 'Roamlers' who visit the stores to rate quality on a scale of one to five. Obviously, this is a subjective judgment; we realize that. But it does give an excellent picture of consumers' perception of quality."
"The great thing is that, with bananas, we can objectify this quality judgment. The app will have a seven-color scale, so anyone can easily judge bananas' quality. We'll start testing the Banana Monitor in September. Once the first two customers sign up, we'll be live in two weeks," Christiaan concludes.