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Produce On Demand

How can we leverage the On-Demand economy to reduce food wastage across working urban households

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The on-demand economy today brings us everything from taxis, massages, dry-cleaning and groceries. But how about leveraging this new mindset to drive efficiencies within the food production and distribution ecosystem in our local communities. 

As part of our original design challenge to reduce food wastage across households ( 2015 IDEO design challenge ) we looked at what challenges both producers and consumers were facing. Here were some of our findings


“Large amount of food waste usually occurs in a setting where people purchase on a weekly basis. […] Not all the food they purchase is used. Long term education is needed on how people can use fresh foods and vegetables more frequently than relying on packaged foods.”

“The size of appliance determines the ability to hold stuff. People with small fridges have better connection to their food.”

“People don’t see a connection with their food unless they see insecurity or poverty. […] In third world countries and developing nations, there is a much stronger connection with food due to limited land use and focus on nutrition.”

“Customers want to build trust. They want to see the faces of people growing and harvesting their food.”

“Fresh food increases usage and reduces waste, but intervention is needed for more people to cook at home. Ultimately people need to realize how to use the food they have.”

People we learned from

  • Young single working professionalswho are health conscious and have smaller consumption needs
  • Working couples who prefer cookingat home but face time constraints
  • Families of diverse culturalbackgrounds with strong opinion on food wastage

Experts we spoke to

  • Food professional who follow strictguidelines around food wastage
  • Social activists who presented findings and insights on food wastage across industries
  • Food entrepreneur who is designingsustainable food options to children in schools

Immersion Location(s)

  • Local farmers’ market
  • Homeless shelter
  • Households food assessment forworking professionals

The Concept

Local produce growers can tap into a effective network of professionals looking for access to farm fresh produce at their doorstep. Producers can use these channels to engage directly with their customers in order to educate them about where their food comes from and develop a stronger relationship for their brand. Conversely working professionals have the ability to purchase more frequently from these mobile producers leading to less wastage, at the same time professionals are experiencing and "touching" food in person, speaking with the growers and understanding more about the food and its attributes. This emotional connection with their food has the added impact of reducing wastage compared with a scenario in which products are bought at a transactional level

Concept Build

In order to visualize the overall experience, Our team sat down and developed a storyboard that incorporates a main persona, we talked though the experiences, the needs, the desires and the challenges. Our initial concept featured a subscription model where the user can sign up and upon payment he is matched with a local producer within our network that also signed up as part of our "Produce on Demand" POD program. Our Initial effort would be a pilot program within the city of sunnyvale and would target local famers market suppliers that host the weekend farmers market. Based on their interest we would launch a pilot program within the neighborhood and invite a select group of working professionals to sign up for the service.

1. Produce On Demand "POD" Overview

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2. Produce On Demand "POD" Sign up

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3. Produce On Demand Service Notification

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How can we make this project a reality - (as part of a test pilot)

  • People with knowledge and connections among local food producers (Bay Area)
  • Chef with knowledge of local products that can be sourced for healthy recipes
  • Marketing professional for campaign creation around food wastage and how we help
  • Operations expert to help run a test pilot within the communities

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