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Peapod founders make shopping for special dietary needs a breeze with new app, website

Peapod co-founder brothers have Introduced a website and scanning technology that lets shoppers search grocery aisles, products to filter out specific ingredients.

Brothers Andrew (left) and Thomas Parkinson, who founded online grocery delivery pioneer Peapod, have created Shifter.shop to give online and in-store shoppers free access to a tool that lets them ‘sift’ through grocery ingredients to find exactly the foods they want.
Brothers Andrew (left) and Thomas Parkinson, who founded online grocery delivery pioneer Peapod, have created Shifter.shop to give online and in-store shoppers free access to a tool that lets them ‘sift’ through grocery ingredients to find exactly the foods they want.
Elana Margolis

Just imagine you avoid or have an allergy to nuts. You can now walk into any Walmart, go to walmart.sifter.shop on your phone, filter by “nuts none” and start scanning the barcodes of the items you are interested in buying. The scanning tool will red flag you if that item you’re interested in purchasing doesn’t match your filter. You can then decide whether or not it makes sense for you to purchase the item.

All of this comes courtesy of Peapod co-founders’ latest venture, Sifter.Shop, a tool that lets online grocery shoppers quickly sort out off-limits ingredients in foods — but this time, the grocers delivering the goods are Amazon, Instacart, Kroger, Mariano’s, Target and Walmart, among others.

For example, if you or a family member are diabetic or suffers from Celiac, Crohn’s or Lyme disease, irritable bowel syndrome or have other special dietary needs, you can go to the website Sifter.Shop and apply filters using “SiftTags” to weed out nuts, gluten, allergens, shellfish, added-sugar content, foods that conflict with prescription medicines, and other special needs diet no-nos.

Starting Jan. 12, you can use Sifter’s new free app to scan grocery items in-person at Walmart. Shoppers can find the Walmart Shop-by-Diet tool at walmart.sifter.shop to scan grocery items’ ingredient labels in the store aisles.

Shoppers can find the Walmart Shop-by-Diet tool at walmart.sifter.shop to scan grocery items’ ingredient labels in the store aisles.
Shoppers can find the Walmart Shop-by-Diet tool at walmart.sifter.shop to scan grocery items’ ingredient labels in the store aisles.
Elana Margolis

Andrew Parkinson, who with his brother, Thomas, founded online grocery delivery pioneer Peapod, said his own conditions — diabetes and irritable bowel syndrome — require that he choose meat-free, gluten-free products, but he must ensure that they’re low in salt and sugar. He also must avoid foods such as garlic and onions.

His search for mayonnaise using SiftTags on the Sifter website, for example, immediately winnowed to 17 a list of 171 items in one store’s online grocery selection. The low-sodium and no-sugar-added definitions meet USDA and U.S. Food and Drug Administration guidelines.

“Our passion is to make healthy eating easy for everyone, and we believe Walmart’s Shop-by-Diet tool will help millions of its customers better manage their health through diet and nutrition,” Andrew Parkinson said.

Shoppers use categories called SiftTags, such as “Clean-style” — no added sugars and no nuts — to search the Sift.Shop website for the type of ketchup, for example, they want to buy online. 
Shoppers use categories called SiftTags, such as “Clean-style” — no added sugars and no nuts — to search the Sift.Shop website for the type of ketchup, for example, they want to buy online.
Elana Margolis

The Parkinsons launched Sifter.Shop in February 2021 as a “nutrition as a service” business — giving every online grocery shopper the ability to pick just the food that meets specific dietary needs through a retailer’s website. That’s how Sifter makes money — with retailers’ database subscriptions.

They’ve also signed up more than 50 dietitians and nutritionists to pay to use Sifter.Shop’s license covering its database of over 100,000 products.

Sifter.Shop also lets companies promote their brands on the site. That helps smaller brands get their stories out, said Thomas Parkinson.

One example is Primal Kitchen, whose salad dressing has no nuts, dairy or gluten — the perfect match for people with Celiac disease and a dairy, casein or nut allergy.

The business reflects how health and wellness are expected to become even more personalized in the next five years, said Judy Seybold, a nutritionist and registered dietitian for nearly 30 years, and chief nutrition officer at Sifter.Shop.

“Health used to be a one-size-fits-all healthy diet. Now, it’s allergies, keto, vegan and specific diets for those with heart disease,” said Seybold, who identifies diets and works with Sifter’s tech team to automate the ingredient-sifting rules. Sifter has over 30 team members.

Sifter.Shop offers a similar tool called RecipeSifter, which analyzes recipes to show which ingredients are suitable and which may cause dietary issues.