Mimica - labeling freshness
Zero Waste Circular Economy

Mimica - labeling freshness

Understory Team
Understory Team

Mimica fights perishable food waste with its innovative label technology on food packages.

Solveiga Pakstaite, Founder & Director of Mimica, spoke at Understory's 'Startups Driving Sustainability' Showcase in June. To watch the entire presentation, click here.

According to the United Nations, over 931 million tons of food is wasted every year1. This equates to the amount of food to fill bumper-to-bumper trucks that circle the earth seven times! Over 61% of this waste comes from household consumers, many of whom dispose of food before it becomes unusable1. Food waste is a large contributor to greenhouse gas emissions, producing 8-10% of global emissions1. Waste and emissions? It’s a double whammy for our planet.

An ignored area of innovation to reduce food waste is the food label. Labels help consumers decide when to throw food away. Unfortunately, many consumers are trained to think that food labels represent expiration dates signally when food is spoiled or unsafe to consume. In reality, in the U.S. there are no expiration or food spoilage date requirements on any food products except for infant formula. Today, many of these labels are actually “best-if-used-by” dates, or estimated dates recommended by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration. These labels imply when food is at its peak quality, not when they should be thrown out.

Food manufacturers have an incentive to encourage consumers to only use products at their peak and buy more frequently. They also want to avoid any reputation risks, so will always err on the side of caution with earlier dates. Because these labels are not very insightful about what food can still be eaten, consumers do not know what’s still fresh and often trash food unnecessarily.

Enter Mimica.

To combat food waste, Mimica developed a patented label technology that shows consumers when the product has expired. The company’s label - Mimica Touch - goes from smooth to bumpy signaling food expiration. The food label is derived from science and chemistry. Each label has a unique gel chemistry that spoils at the same rate as the product inside. When the gel spoils, it turns into a liquid and breaks the barrier, causing the bumps to appear. The gel can be formulated so that it is stronger or weaker depending on temperature sensitivity and other spoilage factors for the underlying product. It gives an accurate picture, and feel, of whether a product should be eaten or not. Mimica is bringing science to food packaging, in turn helping consumers make better decisions on food consumption and minimizing food waste.

Mimica labels are intended to complement existing labels with more science-driven information on food spoilage. The labels still have a “use by” date associated with the products. Mimica works with its food producers to extend or refine dates on food labels based on chemistry, which is more likely a better signal of food spoilage. The extension of food labels is risk free because bumps will appear and notify the consumer should the product spoil before the listed date. Brands have found that consumers are more likely to buy larger quantities and sizes of fresh products if they aren’t worried about food spoiling soon - which actually lifts product revenue. Consumers similarly see value in a more accurate and sustainable label.

Mimica’s Founder - Solveiga Pakstaite - discovered this solution to food waste unexpectedly. While in university, Solveiga went on a quest to make expiration labels accessible to those who are vision impaired. She discovered the touch labels and then uncovered an additional - and much bigger - use case: reducing waste of perishable items. Her story is a great example of finding solutions in unexpected places.

Mimica is currently working with a variety of food manufacturers and bottling companies across Europe. While their labels are currently focused on fighting food waste, they see natural extensions to other perishable products including vaccines, organ transplants, cosmetics, and other items.

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Learn more about Mimica and how it helps reduce food waste by watching the company's presentation at our June 2021 ‘Startups Driving Sustainability’ Showcase recording.

[1] UNEP Food Waste Index Report 2021. March 4, 2021

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