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How AI is Ushering in a New Era of Food Product Development
APAC's leading F&B trend analysis company reveals best practices for companies to implement AI successfully.
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Tracking consumer food trends in 2023 is tricky. There are so many data points available online, from recipe websites and menus to e-commerce reviews and SNS feeds. Even then, technology like social media spreads new trends on an almost hourly basis, making whatever insight you glean all the more fleeting. Couple this with multi-year product development timelines and you’ve got a recipe for products that hit the market months, if not years, too late.
Today we learn how AI is being used as a solution to this problem in an interview with APAC’s leading trend analysis company, AI Palette. You’ll learn the difference between companies that fail and succeed to implement AI for product development. What’s more, you’ll get an exclusive look at how big F&B brands have used AI for timely product development wins.
In The News: Unilever’s plant-based promise, virtual ALDI stores, the end of single-use plastics, and more.
Trending with Gen Z: A cheesy martini 🧀🍸
Innovation Deep Dive: The Future of Food Product Development Is AI
Interview with AI Palette
Challenges of launching AI in the F&B industry
AI Palette’s secret sauce
How organizations implement AI successfully
Kelogg’s cereal case study
📰 In The News
A curation of our favorite F&B innovation stories from the week. Can be read in less than a 🧻 break.
ALDI launching virtual convenience stores in the US. The retailer is partnering with grocery tech company Instacart to launch ALDI Express, a virtual convenience store that can deliver in as fast as 30 minutes from 2100 US locations.
The UK will ban single-use plastics from October 1st, 2023. Businesses have been advised to switch to reusable or non-plastic materials.
eatingdisorder.org shows us how not to use AI. The company shut down an AI it was testing for its support line last week after it gave out unintended “harmful” advice to callers.
PepsiCo has opened what it claims to be its “most sustainable factory in Europe”. The plant, based in Poland, aims to be carbon neutral by 2035 and uses circular-economy practices such as recycling wastewater and generating electricity through rooftop solar panels.
📱Trending With Gen-Z
What social media is telling us about Gen-Z’s cravings! Can be enjoyed during an 🛗 ride.
James Bond has an extra decision to make when it comes to his martini order, and that is whether to add parmesan. At least he would do if he ordered espresso martinis.
This week’s trend is the growing popularity of the Parm Espresso Martini, an espresso martini topped with a dusting of parmesan. This article in Punch covers the rise of the trend which is sweeping through TikTok and encouraging bars to add the option to their cocktail menus 🧀🍸
🚀 Innovation Deep Dive: AI Palette Interview
Weekly deep dive into an F&B trend. Can be read in less than a 🚋 ride.
Of all the use cases for AI in food and beverage today, consumer insight analysis is one the most developed and impactful. But how can you leverage this innovative tech to bring real benefits to your business? We interviewed APAC’s leading trend analysis company, AI Palette, to find out.
Co-Founder & CEO Somsubhra GanChoudhuri (pictured above) sat down with us to tell us how F&B companies across the world are streamlining and supercharging their product innovation using his company’s tech. Somsubhra shared his insights on what enables companies to successfully adopt AI. He also introduced an exclusive case study of how a breakfast serial giant leveraged AI to keep its product development from going stale. Let’s get into the interview.
What core problem does AI Palette solve for customers?
Somsubhra: Product innovation in the food and beverage industry is a lengthy and complex process. It takes anything from one to two years! But consumer tastes change almost weekly thanks to social media, political upheaval, economic pressures, global events like the pandemic, and trending TikTok’s of donut burgers. There’s a huge mismatch here and it’s costing the F&B industry a lot.
AI Palette is here to change things. We offer tools that significantly streamline the product development process, particularly during the conceptualization stage. Companies can quickly identify market opportunities, generate product concepts, and screen those concepts to pinpoint which ones are most likely to succeed—in just a few clicks. This significantly reduces the time from ideation to prototyping, keeping businesses agile and responsive to always-changing consumer needs.
What was the biggest challenge you faced when you launched AI Palette?
Somsubhra: When we launched AI Palette in 2018, the general awareness and understanding of AI, particularly in the food and beverage industry, was low. There were a lot of naysayers who doubted the potential of our technology to transform product development.
“I heard - “Is this science fiction”? - on an almost daily basis. But this only drove me. Because the good ideas are always crazy until they are not, right? Probably the crazier it is and the stronger it is.”
So how did we manage to overcome early skepticism? We sought out the innovators and early adopters within the industry, individuals open to exploring new technologies. By working with pioneers, we were able to create case studies and success stories demonstrating the practical benefits and feasibility of our AI technology. These success stories helped us convince other companies to give our AI solution a try, and we gradually shifted the industry's perception of AI.
How has the explosion in awareness created by generative AI affected your business?
Somsubhra: The release of Chat GPT was a historic moment. For the first time, people can interact directly with AI and see its benefits firsthand.
“This shift has changed the conversation I have with potential customers from "why do we need AI?" to "how can we use AI?"
It has made people realize they can't afford to lag behind in adopting AI anymore, otherwise, they’ll become dinosaurs.
What role does AI play in AI Palette?
Somsubhra: AI is the backbone of AI Palette.
Our secret sauce in our natural language processing (NLP) algorithm. It’s specifically built for the food and beverage industry, enabling it to understand language in this specific context with high accuracy, in multiple languages.
“It’s trained to interpret language in the context of food. Take the word “hot”. In the F&B context, this likely means spicy. But in other contexts, it can mean a high temperature or that someone is attractive.”
Our algorithm is also unique in that it analyzes data in many South East Asian languages which are competitors don’t offer, including Thai, Tagalog, Japanese, and South Korean.
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We also use computer vision technology to analyze images to extract context-specific information about food consumption.
Finally, we’ve implemented generative AI recently. Our clients can use this to create new product concepts and, potentially in the future, generate images.
What is the biggest challenge organizations have in implementing AI?
Somsubhra: One of the biggest challenges I've noticed is the human element. People can often be resistant to change, especially when it involves adapting to a new tool or technology. They might embrace the idea of AI at a higher level, but on the ground, it can be a different story.
“We actually find the companies who adopt our technology most smoothly tend to start fresh. For example, we worked with a major ingredients company that was establishing a consumer insights function. From the get-go, they started using our technology. As it was a new team, with no pre-existing system or workflows, they adopted AI Palette without any friction.”
Can you share a case study of how your technology has been used successfully?
Somsubhra: We've had several exciting success stories, but one that particularly stands out involves Kellogg's. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Kellogg's, known for its convenience-oriented breakfast cereals, faced a unique challenge. As people were not going out as much and experimenting with cooking at home, the value proposition of a quick, healthy breakfast was losing relevance.
Kellogg's used our platform across four markets in Southeast Asia—Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines—to identify new consumption occasions for breakfast cereal beyond breakfast. They explored different applications of breakfast cereal as an ingredient in various dishes. This led to a digital marketing campaign where they recommended different uses for their cereals in each market. For example, in Singapore, they suggested using honey crunch cereal to create crusted salmon, while in the Philippines, they promoted adding Fruit Loops to pancakes.
The campaign was extremely successful, resulting in a 200% increase in consumer intent to purchase Kellogg's products.
“The brand grew faster than the breakfast cereal category in Southeast Asia that year.“
Our platform's ability to identify ingredient pairings based on popular recipes and menus in each market enabled this growth. It’s a testament to the power of AI in reshaping strategies and driving growth, even in challenging circumstances.
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