Label Insight’s new Open Data Initiative grants access to academic researchers for free

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The Chicago-based data company is providing academic researchers complimentary access to its data set in consumer packaged goods.

Dubbed the Open Data initiative, it was spearheaded by Label Insight co-founder and VP of Customer Intelligence, Dagan Xavier.

“We believe that if you want to change the world, that the first point of call is to ensure the smartest people in your industry have the access and tools they need to be heard and either challenge or support the status quo,” he told FoodNavigator-USA.

The company’s data takes raw product information from a product’s packaging (such as descriptions, serving size, nutrient, ingredient, marketing, and allergen information), but also analyses and applies context.

“For example, through our ingredient analysis we can easily determine whether a product is Low Sodium, a Good Source of Fiber, or Healthy according to FDA regulations,” Xavier explained. “We do this analysis, regardless of whether or not the product claims are on the packaging.”

Using data in academic research

There won’t be any restrictions from publishing findings based on Label Insight’s data, the company said.

As of now, participating institutions include Healthy Food America, The George Institute, The University of Virginia, The Ohio State University, Duke University, and Sustain Hawaii, among others. But the company aims to share its data wider.

“The Open Data initiative is not an exclusive club by any means,” Xavier said. “It is open to all non-profits, universities and research organizations that are wanting to publish research on our food supply and industry.”

As long as the data is being used by a non-profit organization, university, and research institution, complimentary access through the Open Data Initiative is possible.

‘We need to elevate our conversations around the food we purchase’

Driving the initiative is a mission for transparency, especially in a time of increasing consumer distrust toward food. “As a country, we need to elevate our conversations around the food we purchase, sell and consume, and embrace greater transparency,” Xavier said.

“It is our hope, that by solving a pain point for researchers regarding open, unrestricted access to a food composition data, that we can help facilitate these conversations and escalate change in our industry,” he added.

The company, which received a $10m Series B round of funding led by KPMG Capital last year, has been vocal and active about consumer access to information—it developed the SmartSPEC solution, which helps food and beverage brands participate in the GMA-backed SmartLabel initiative

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