In today's fast-paced world, where convenience often trumps quality, the packaged food industry in India has flourished, offering an array of products that cater to the taste buds but not necessarily to the body's nutritional needs.
A recent study by the George Institute of Global Health at Oxford has cast a spotlight on a concerning issue: packaged foods in India rank among the unhealthiest in the world.
This revelation is not just a statistic; it's a wake-up call to the millions who, out of habit or necessity, reach for these products on the grocery shelves. The allure of quick, ready-to-eat meals and snacks is undeniable, yet the cost to health is often overlooked.
The problem is twofold: not only are consumers bombarded with options that are high in trans fats, sugars, and preservatives, but the ability to discern the nutritional value of these foods is also obfuscated by complex labels and misleading marketing. The challenge is exacerbated by a cultural shift towards convenience eating, coupled with a lack of awareness and education about nutritional content.
Even those with the best intentions, aiming to make healthier choices, find themselves navigating a maze of nutritional information, struggling to understand what the percentages, grams, and ingredients listed on the back of a packet actually mean for their health.
This gap in understanding and the difficulty in accessing clear, straightforward nutritional information contribute to a dietary paradox: a growing desire for healthy eating amidst an increasing consumption of unhealthy packaged foods.
The result is a society grappling with the long-term health consequences of its dietary choices, underscoring the urgent need for a solution that demystifies nutrition.
To address the urgent need, Akshaye Jalan launched Xume, a startup that aims to help consumers make better food choices by scoring packaged groceries based on over 60 health parameters and recommending healthier alternatives.
Who is the founder?
Akshaye Jalan is the founder and CEO of Xume. Xume isn't Jalan's first venture. He embarked on his entrepreneurial journey in 1999 when he co-founded Elganza Furnishings. After shutting down the company, A decade later, he co-founded Bumblebees. He has also served as the President at Global Tycoons Inc.
The inception of Xume traces back to a personal experience faced by Jalan, whose father suffered a heart attack despite leading an active lifestyle fueled by home-cooked meals. This incident unveiled the hidden dangers lurking in everyday food items, propelling Jalan to delve deep into the world of nutrition labels and ingredients.
His relentless pursuit over eight years has equipped Xume with a robust AI-driven platform that evaluates products against over 60 health parameters, drawing insights from global regulatory bodies like India’s Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI), the United States Food and Drug Administration (US FDA), and Europe’s Food and Drug Administration, among others.
How Xume operates
Xume simplifies the daunting task of deciphering food labels. The startup has developed an app called Xume App, which allows users to scan a product's barcode to receive a detailed breakdown of ingredients and a personalised health score.
Notably, the app also recommends healthier alternatives, positioning it as the quintessential guide for making nourishing eating choices, akin to what TripAdvisor is for travel and IMDB for movies.
With an initial boost from seed investment led by Aakash Chaudhary of Aakash Educational Services, Xume has harnessed the power of AI to sift through an extensive database encompassing over 100,000 products, 10,000 ingredients, and 3,500 brands. This meticulous process culminates in assigning a health score out of 100 to each product, guiding consumers towards healthier eating choices.
How does it make money?
Xume's revenue model is twofold: a subscription-based service for 'Pro' users, offering various features, including personalised recipes and access to masterclasses, and a B2B partnership model.
Xume offers a 'Pro' subscription model to individual users. For a monthly fee of Rs 1,299 or an annual fee of Rs 8,399, 'Pro' users can access a suite of enhanced features. These features include personalised food recommendations, curated grocery shopping lists, access to masterclasses, and events focused on health and nutrition.
The subscription model provides a steady revenue stream while offering consumers value-added services that go beyond the basic functionality of scanning and assessing food products.
The startup also partners with Healthcare and Insurance Companies. Recently, The startup strategically partnered with organisations in the insurance, diagnostics, and healthcare sectors. By integrating its grocery-scoring intelligence into these companies' offerings, Xume provides a value-added service that helps these businesses differentiate themselves in the market.
For example, insurance companies can offer Xume's services as part of a wellness program, encouraging policyholders to make healthier food choices.
The startup also operates on a contractual basis with its B2B partners. These agreements likely involve Xume providing its technology and services for a fee, which can be structured as a flat rate, a per-user fee, or a commission on generated leads or sales.
The startup has forged partnerships with six entities in the insurance, diagnostics, and healthcare sectors, integrating its grocery-scoring intelligence to bolster the preventative healthcare ecosystem.
While the current focus is on enhancing the B2C offering and solidifying B2B partnerships, Xume's future plans include expanding its database to cover new products and brands, further developing its AI capabilities for more accurate and personalised recommendations, and possibly exploring additional revenue models such as advertising or premium B2B services.
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