MINNEAPOLIS — Transparency is in the bull’s-eye of two concepts being tested by Target Corp. as part of a multi-year partnership with global design firm IDEO and MIT’s Media Lab. Dubbed the Food + Future coLab, the collaboration kicked off in January and will explore such topics as urban farming, food transparency and authenticity, supply chain and health.
One of the latest ideas in testing, at the Fenway Target store in Boston, is called Good & Gather, which reimagines traditional food labels by clearly displaying ingredients on the front of packaging rather than in small print on the back. The second concept being tested enables shoppers to scan produce to learn real-time nutritional information about a fruit or vegetable and pay based on freshness.
|Greg Shewmaker, one of Target’s entrepreneurs-in-residence|
“In a short period of time, we’ve already developed a pipeline of concepts ready for testing, we’re building disruptive technologies and — most important — we’re closer than ever to helping people know more about what’s in their food,” said Greg Shewmaker, one of Target’s entrepreneurs-in-residence.
Another project under way at Food + Future coLab, located in Cambridge, Mass., leverages technical expertise from Ocean Optics to design a platform that can “see” inside food to evaluate such factors as nutrient levels and contaminants.
Other plans in the works include the launch of a web site with IDEO to identify how food will be grown, sold and consumed over the next 15 years; and an exploration of city farming with MIT’s Media Lab.
|Caleb Harper, director of the Open Agriculture initiative at MIT’s Media Lab|
“Our work with Target is a collaboration in the truest sense of the word,” said Caleb Harper, director of the Open Agriculture initiative at MIT’s Media Lab. “The MIT team will bring our expertise in research and technology, while Target brings their ability to scale and reach the world.
“People like to say things like, ‘the best strawberries come from Mexico.’ But really, the best strawberries come from the climate in Mexico that creates expressions like sweetness and color that we like. We think there is tremendous opportunity to democratize climate through control-environment agriculture and we look forward to kicking off this work with Target.”