The latest news, views and insights in food trends
People are constantly changing their diets. This makes it increasingly difficult for people to come together around food. The act of people coming together to share a meal plays a major role in many cultures around the globe. Sadly, that aspect of culture is being put on the back burner to accommodate changes in food price, availability, and popularity.
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The need for real-time, comprehensive data
The food and beverage industry is a $10 trillion industry that has been struggling to understand consumer needs due to its use of static and obsolete data gathering and analysis. The new way of challenging the market status quo is by offering real-time, statistically significant data that is extremely comprehensive, paired with cutting-edge AI. In a perfect world, the food and beverage industry connects the right foods with the right people as well as generates the right demand and awareness. Tastewise provides geographic contextualization for 27 different markets, allowing for the creation of specific solutions for businesses that are relevant to where they are and what people in their space are looking for.
According to Alon Chen, CEO of Tastewise, the food industry needs to tackle the question of "What are the correct methodologies to understand consumers and consumption?" Tastewise attempts to contextualize brands and products to consumers, a difficult task as food is cultural and greatly influenced by localized flavors and ingredients. Data quality is critical to the success of any system, and Tastewise offers wide-ranging, extremely comprehensive data, paired with cutting-edge AI that does not exist anywhere else.
Observing data to understand the changing food ecosystem The food industry should be focused on observed data, such as what people are buying and cooking. Younger generations are more flexible when it comes to food, while older generations tend to stick with what they know. The food ecosystem is changing, and the democratization of data in an organization and all its departments leads to a more robust and agile organization that can respond quickly to changes in the industry. Companies are choosing to invest in resources and software to accelerate the DIY process instead of outsourcing the research process, which historically took months and costs a lot of money. “We are helping organizations move faster. We are providing them with data that is relatable, that is explainable, that they can take to a board discussion and fully internalize and comprehend what is in front of them,” says Chen.
Data sources are important to the success of businesses but how that data is processed is just as important. Quality, precision, and ease of use of the data are hugely important to organizations. Big companies are looking for a global solution that they can implement across different countries. They don’t want to have to invest in a new tool for each region. They want data that refreshes quickly. Some of the key questions are; is the data statistically significant and is your technology truly understanding the moment of consumption? This is what an AI algorithm needs to accomplish in the same way as humans do. It is expected to analyze billions of consumption moments and then compile and interpret the data.
Data quality is critical to the success of any system. The computer concept of Garbage In, Garbage Out is especially relevant to the food industry. Some companies claim to have the largest or most comprehensive datasets available but the data is not current. Are those datasets relevant to the area and sector of the market that they are being applied to? Do the datasets include independent restaurants where menu innovation is happening?
Recontextualizing flavors and ingredients Getting the right shelf space is only half the battle, getting a spot on restaurant menus is equally important, as restaurants are known for being trendsetters and drivers. According to Chen, "It's less about the data and more about the application. Is the tool helping you find something you wouldn't have found on your own? Is the tool helping you make decisions faster?"
These technological leaps are aimed at helping organizations move faster and be more dynamic. The big issues that lots of companies are struggling with are; how to become data-driven, how to use data better, and how to tailor data around their needs. After all, data is only as good as the processes around it.
The role of food technology companies In Chen’s experience, the food industry possesses an openness to new ideas and a willingness to change things, and it is willing to be more collaborative and less competitive. What the industry should also remember is that it is not just about new product development, but more about recontextualizing flavors and ingredients. This is because flavoring has the ability to enhance the consumption experience. The aim is not to create a blanket solution that is going to work in every market. Food is cultural and is also greatly influenced by localized flavors and ingredients.
It is the duty of food technology companies to help the food industry understand consumers better by providing them with data that is statistically significant and easy to digest. A further goal is to create a system where 100% of products created succeed. This reduces costs and means that food is more accessible to the masses due to lower food costs (one of the biggest cost factors in the food industry is research and development and before that, data gathering and analysis).
Tastewise’s contribution to the process of data democratization is to give the masses access to data they never had before, to put food in the right places, and generate the right demand and awareness. The democratization of data will lead to more agile and robust organizations and a more diverse, secure food industry.