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Tastewise: AI is changing the food landscape every day; ‘companies need to adapt and fast’

Article-Tastewise: AI is changing the food landscape every day; ‘companies need to adapt and fast’

Alon Chen © Tastewise Alon Chen-Tatsewise.jpg
Food intelligence company Tastewise believes the future of food is less processed and more sustainable. According to the company, artificial intelligence (AI) will have a role in achieving this.

Fi Global Insights caught up with Alon Chen, CEO and co-founder of Tastewise, ahead of F&A Next in May to understand how he believes AI will shape the future of food. At F&A Next, Chen will be joining a session focused on exploring new horizons in food through AI.

Tastewise is a food intelligence company using generative AI to help both up-and-coming companies and already-established large enterprises in the food and beverage industry to stay ahead of trends, validate their concepts, and innovate freely.

“I think the most important thing to remember is that AI is already changing the food landscape every day. Whenever we go on Google and search for a new recipe, whenever we go on TikTok and scroll and see new content, whenever we already get to the [supermarket] shelf, or whenever we open our favourite app from our retailer, AI is already helping us make big decisions. It is already designing and helping us shape our mindsets without us knowing,” Chen said.

AI is already happening in a big way and is already being adopted by the industry, according to Chen. But for him, the bigger change is coming from consumers, which means companies need to adapt and and fast.

Around 90% of new product launches are unsuccessful

According to Chen, consumers are changing the way they talk about health. They are now less concerned with “healthy” foods and more interested in foods that target specific aspects of health. They want to know what healthy is. What does it mean? They want to know if it's good for their gut, for their brain, for their sleep, for their anxiety, for their menopause, for their fertility,” Chen said.

When it comes to creating products that have an impact on consumers, Tastewise’s AI-powered platform TasteGPT comes into play. The generative AI chatbot, uses Tastewises comprehensive online database to answer companies’ questions, for example anticipating future consumer trends. This database includes information on popular restaurant dishes, insights from home cooking panels, and various other sources like social media, food blogs, and e-commerce platforms.

“In the past, we used to have maybe a couple of trends a year. Today, every day there is a new food trend.”

In this day and age, a food company cannot keep up with every single food trend, nor can it adapt its production line every day, explained Chen.  

Companies also face challenges when it comes to new product development. For a company, simply finding an innovation does not equal success. “How do you package it, how do you bring it to market for the consumers you're targeting first, what is the right narrative, the right packaging claim, and the right content to help you push it to the the right consumer?” Chen said.

Another important aspect is deciding when to launch. “Launching a product too early or too late is probably not going to be successful,” Chen added.

“The statistics are still at around a 90% failure rate for new product launches. So, my team and I are always thinking, ‘what would happen if we could get to a 100% success rate? What an incredible new world would it be’.

“There's so much more to be done. We're [at Tastewise] only getting started and there's so much more opportunity on the table.”

The future food industry may be less processed

“We love to say  [AI] is part of the problem but it can be part of the solution as well,” Chen said.

According to Chen, robots, both in the household and in the business marketplace are going to be more commonplace. The industry, he said, needs to catch up with this emerging technology and intergrate it into their operations.

“The future of our industry is also less processed. [...] For that you need real-time production and you need [fewer] preservatives and so technology is going to be able to help as well,” Chen said.

Chen added that technology can assist each stage of the food production and manufacturing process, such as improving water system management, implementing precision agriculture techniques, or even reducing pesticide use through better soil and plant treatment methods.

The technology is there, it's coming, and is moving very very fast,” Chen said. It may be coming at a faster rate than what the industry is currently capable of handling, but as Chen explained, this challenge also brings a wave of new businesses, incubators, and competition into the market.

As he put it:“There's nothing better than competition to create a better ecosystem”.