April 10, 2012, 11:54 AM

Allrecipes.com’s upgraded app lets consumers scan for supper help

A new feature lets cooks scan grocery bar codes for help with culinary creations.

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Sometimes even the most creative chef needs a little inspiration when it comes to what to whip up with the ingredients in her pantry. Allrecipes.com, a social site that offers recipes, enables cooks to share ideas and doles out kitchen tips, has updated its apps for Apple Inc.’s iPhone and for smartphones using Google Inc.’s Android operating system with a feature that can help.  

The feature, available in Allrecipes.com’s free Dinner Spinner app as well as its $2.99 Dinner Spinner Pro, enables cooks to scan bar codes on grocery items with a smartphone to find recipes that call for those items, add items to shopping lists or save items in a scan history, creating a "virtual pantry" to keep track of food and ingredients at home.

Consumers can scan a grocery item's bar code to search for recipes with related ingredients, create and manage shopping lists by scanning ingredients they are low on to add them to a list, and to avoid purchasing something they don’t need by scanning the ingredients they have in their pantries.

Consumers can also save money by scanning sale items and then searching for recipes in Allrecipes’ database that contain those ingredients.  For example, if Chihuahua cheese is on sale, the app user can search through a database of recipes with that ingredient. For brave chefs, the app also features a slot-machine-style search feature that will choose a recipe for a consumer based on ingredients she enters.

"With more than 11 million global downloads of Allrecipes' Dinner Spinner, developing innovative new features that meet our community's needs and complement our apps is a top priority for Allrecipes," says Lisa Sharples, president of Allrecipes.com. 

More consumers are realizing the value of putting their smartphones to work while in a store. 58% of smartphone owners use a phone while in bricks-and-mortar stores to shop, according to the comScore MobiLens report. Additionally, one in five use their smartphones to scan bar codes, comScore says.

Bar code scanning in particular seems to be on the rise. Scanbuy, a QR code purveyor and Quick Response marketing campaign manager, registered 31 million scans of 1-D and 2-D bar codes worldwide in 2011 through its ScanLife app. That’s up 297% from 7.8 million in 2010. There were 11 million scans in the fourth quarter of 2011, up 175% from 4 million in Q4 2010. There were more bar code scans through ScanLife in Q4 2011 than in all of 2009 and 2010 combined, Scanbuy says.

The Universal Product Code, or UPC, is a one-dimensional bar code found on virtually all consumer goods, including grocery items. Scanning a conventional bar code can lead consumers to product information hosted on the mobile web by a scanning company, a comparison shopping engine, a retailer or other companies.

A QR code is a form of two-dimensional bar code not yet common on consumer goods, but gaining popularity as a marketing tool. It typically appears as a black-and-white square with a pattern of tiny black-and-white squares within; sometimes a company may include its logo within the square. A consumer downloads a QR code scanner app, such as ScanLife, onto his smartphone. He opens the app, points the smartphone camera at the QR code, and the app reads the code and then connects him to mobile web-based content.


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