It’s hard to find a place to research food—the kind that you buy at the grocery store and put into your body every day. As people become more aware, and concerned, about what thy eat, a site like Zeer makes more and more sense. Zeer, which launched earlier today, is a product review site for food. It contains nutritional information for 114,000 food products, and each one can be rated and reviewed.
Founder and CEO Michael Putnam used to work at the Markem Corporation, which makes the machines that print nutritional labels on food packages. He thought, “Wouldn’t it be better if all of that information was online in one easy-to-search place?” He raised $1 million in angel funding last August, and started to put the site together.
On Zeer you can find out the nutritional content of any packaged food, write little product reviews like on Amazon, and vote the reviews up or down. You can search by calories, nutrients, vitamins, or ratings. You can also join or search specific food communities—ones for people allergic to milk, peanuts, or gluten; ones for people with diabetes or heart problems; ones for parents, vegetarians, or the organic-obsessed. This categorization allows you to talk about food within the context of your specific gastronomic needs and interests.
The site is organized by products, people, and communities and is targeted at women between 20 and 32. The most-discussed or highly-rated products pop up to the top of each relevant page each week. And each member’s profile page shows what products she loves and hates the most.
There is definitely a need for a neutral food review site. And when Zeer turns on advertising, there are obvious targeting opportunities in both search results and on specific product and community pages. But Zeer also definitely is missing some major ingredients. The site is screaming for a mobile version members can check on their cell phones while in a grocery store. Vocal members also have no way to spread their expertise or ratings across the Web with widgets. (Fortunately, both mobile and widgets are on the product roadmap).
A harder problem to solve is that Zeer only has information on packaged foods, not on less processed foods like meat, fish, fruits or vegetables. So it does not cover everything in your fridge. And while it does a great job on nutritional data, it doesn’t have other relevant data, such as how much energy went into making each product. People are hungry for this sort of information, and the site that can give it to them all will keep them coming back for more.