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Funder: National Institute for Health Research
Project dates: Apr 2017 – Aug 2022

foodDB is a research platform for collecting, processing, storing, and analysing real-time data on the food and drink that are available to buy in the UK. foodDB is a robust and flexible software and database infrastructure built to deal with the rapidly changing food and drink marketplace to: 

  • monitor what is available to purchase and how that changes over time; 
  • answer standalone research questions; 
  • supplement existing datasets for more accurate epidemiological and other research;
  • generate datasets for use by collaborating research and other partner organisations.

Each week foodDB collects, processes, cleans, organises and stores data ‘snapshots’ for all nine major online supermarkets in the UK which collectively account for over 90% of the grocery market in the UK.  foodDB contains all available product and category data, including category hierarchy, and product price, promotion, nutrient composition, ingredients, allergy information, country of origin and images, in addition to automatically generated nutrition and sustainability metadata.  Availability and price data are collected daily, and full product and category data is updated weekly, with around 120,000 products collected per week within the UK. foodDB contains over 30 million lines of full product data collected for products in UK retailers since November 2017.  Through a project with WHO Europe, foodDB has also been expanded to Ireland, Portugal, Hungary, and Israel, and now captures data from 30 retailers in total. 

foodDB was designed and created by Dr Richie Harrington at the University of Oxford, and it runs without any need for external partnerships or third-party providers.  In addition to our own research, foodDB is also used in collaboration with other academics, charities, governmental and other non-profit organisations.


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