A startup delivers a new way to discover the origin of what we eat.
The world as we know it today is a huge globalised system that affects every aspect of our daily lives. These days, everything that surrounds comes from a host of different places. Not to mention what we eat and drink. A quick trip to the grocery store confirms the extent to which globalisation is now part of our daily routine: vegetables from North Africa, wine from Australia and the United States... a macro system that offers us a chance to gain familiarity with fruits and flavours from the far-flung corners of the earth but which, at the same time, may lead to the loss of product authenticity or, even worse, the production of knock-offs - a practice that has sadly become commonplace today, even where food is concerned. So we have one glaringly big problem that is hard to tackle because it is immersed in a vast and complex environment where tracing a product back its origins can often be an extremely hard, if not unthinkable, challenge
To address this issue and thousands more like it comes Viveat, an innovative startup with a promising future founded by three young Italian entrepreneurs and globe trotters, Marcello Gamberale, Nicolò Zambello and Giacomo Zucco. These food, wine and technology enthusiasts decided to pool their talents to develop a downloadable user-friendly app that would help users to find out a bit more about what they buy and consume.
“The idea was born in 2014 from one of my earlier business projects”, explains Marcello, the founder and CEO of Viveat, who, fresh out of university, began marketing high end food products over the Internet usually sold in tasting sessions or using sensory approaches. “Right from the start, the challenge was one of how to transmit these sensations over the Internet”. Marco frequently found himself working closely with producers, noting that they had major problems with conveying the superior quality of their products in a thorough manner relying only on a label.
From here came the inspiration of “enhancing the consumer's experience with an interactive label that would allow them to find out more about a product before buying it”, he continues, “to satisfy an increasingly sophisticated public”. To do this, he planned to adopt matrix barcode technology and NFC communication protocols to develop a system that would be fairly simple to use since it would be based on a graphical code that could be scanned using a special application installed on a standard smartphone, “a common tool used by 79% of consumers as they shop”. The first target was the world of wine but once the team discovered the versatility of the new tool they’d just created, a project that went far beyond the original idea began to take shape.
The system, although complex, is very simple to use: a digital label is affixed to the product and, by scanning it, you get all the product information, the origin and the certification, production chain traceability, the nutritional value or, if offered, customer-specific services. It is the producer who decides what content to deliver to the customer and this is what makes the system so attractive: Viveat is a great medium that brings the producer and the consumer closer together. It is also a very important tool for combating counterfeit food, now rampant among the world’s specialties, particularly Italian specialties. More and more people are beginning show interest in, and, in some cases, have become concerned about the origin of what they buy and that is where Viveat is directing its focus.
“Viveat associates a product with a unique QR code”, explains Marcello, “creating a sort of product ID card that we call a Product Passport that immediately guarantees authenticity”. What if, as often happens, the package with its code is copied and repeatedly replicated? “Viveat allows the label scans made by the customer be analysed. It is immediately apparent to us when a code is scanned multiple times and so we are able to identify counterfeits”. A non-trivial series of processes that can reliably protect us from counterfeit products
The team’s objectives for the near future? They have a number of ambitious yet feasible plans. One of them is to integrate the latest Blockchain technology, which allows the trading of goods on-line. This solution is still under development but it holds promise and a potential wealth of opportunity. Viveat also plans to implement Full Product Transparency, a key aspect in the view of the Viveat team, which is seeking to go beyond a simple narrative about the product by guaranteeing the consumer real transparency about the production chain as well as on-the-spot verification of product certificates, which, especially where organic products are concerned, would be very useful.
Viveat is clearly a tool that can be adapted to a large number of domains, and its applications are potentially limitless. But, above all, we can make him being a great ally of our everyday life, a powerful system that helps us choose better what to put on our table, in an informed manner. Vegetables from North Africa, wine from Australia and the United States...thanks to Viveat, they all seem to be closer now.
Viveat at work
Marcello Gamberale, CEO and founder of Viveat
How Viveat works
The Viveat Team
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