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Navigating the phone-to-table era: AI-powered insights for foodservice

September 14, 20232 min
Lauren Daniels photo
Lauren Daniels Tastewise
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The foodservice industry is undergoing a major digital transformation, where technology is reshaping customer experiences and industry trends. A recent webinar hosted by the International Foodservice Manufacturers Association (IFMA) and Tastewise provided essential insights into how foodservice can effectively navigate the phone-to-table era. In case you missed it, here’s everything you need to know about how to keep up with AI in foodservice.

The phone-to-table era: A paradigm shift

The phone-to-table era is all about people using digital platforms for their food experiences. From discovering restaurants to ordering meals, everything happens online. To succeed in this era, foodservice businesses must embrace a digital-first mindset.

The challenge: Navigating the digital landscape

Trends have gone global

Today, food trends can start anywhere and quickly become popular worldwide thanks to social media. Staying updated and acting fast is essential, but there’s a lot of data and sources to keep up with.

Personalization is key

Customers expect personalized experiences, from tailored menu recommendations to exclusive loyalty perks. Delivering this requires an understanding of individual preferences, which can be a complex task.

The danger of a single story

Relying on a single source of data or perspective can lead to incomplete and possibly misguided decisions. In a digital landscape filled with diverse voices and opinions, getting a comprehensive view is critical.

Tip 1: Let AI be your detective

Trends can sprout from various sources, like social media, menus, food blogs, and reviews. Keeping track of all this manually is tough. Here’s where AI can help:

Imagine AI as a brilliant detective in the digital realm. It can quickly sift through tons of data, spotting new trends and consumer preferences. Whether it’s the rise of plant-based diets or the latest culinary sensation, AI excels at spotting these patterns swiftly and efficiently.

The first tip for success in the phone-to-table era is simple: Let AI do the heavy lifting. Instead of getting lost in data, use AI to discover valuable insights. This frees up your time to plan, make informed decisions, and execute. With AI navigating the digital world, you can stay ahead of trends.

Tip 2: Find the right place for AI to help your business grow

Think of AI as the engine driving your growth. But like any engine, it needs to be in the right place to work well. Consider what your foodservice business needs and how AI can help.

For instance, if you’re involved in foodservice, AI can serve as a valuable tool to discern the latest flavor and ingredient trends in the restaurant industry. Foodservice professionals, particularly those catering to restaurants, distributors, or manufacturers, can leverage AI to recommend products with unwavering confidence, backed by robust data insights. This strategic application empowers businesses to cultivate sustainable and organic growth.

Tip two revolves around pinpointing the most effective method of applying AI within your business. Recognize where AI can exert the most influential impact, and channel your efforts accordingly. This approach ensures that AI becomes an invaluable asset, especially for foodservice professionals like distributors and manufacturers who cater to the restaurant industry.

Tip 3: Get a 360° view

In both storytelling and business, relying on just one viewpoint can limit your understanding and lead to mistakes. It’s the same in the digital world. Trusting just one source can be risky. To make the best decisions, you need a full picture. Think of it as putting together a jigsaw puzzle. You can’t see the whole image if you only look at one piece.

AI is great at gathering and analyzing data from various sources. It can connect different parts of your business and the market, giving you a better view. This is crucial for making informed decisions.

Tip number 3 encourages you to use AI to collect data from many sources, inside and outside your business. This helps you understand your business landscape better and make smarter choices.

Practical uses of AI in foodservice:

1. Personalized menus

AI can analyze customer data from home cooking trends, social discussions, menu data etc in order to determine menu gaps, sales opportunities and drive future product innovation.

2. Supply chain improvements

AI can boost supply chain efficiency by identifying regional trends. This means you can give consumers what they want in specific regions as well as move to resupply best-selling products based on area-specific data.

3. Enhanced customer service

AI-driven chatbots and virtual assistants can efficiently handle customer inquiries and reservations, freeing up staff for more complex tasks. This information also provides invaluable insights into how well products are being received by customers. A true market overview is possible through deep understanding of category-specific data.

4. Marketing insights

AI can analyze social media, menus, recipes, and review data to provide valuable insights into customer sentiments, allowing businesses to tailor their marketing and sales strategies accordingly.

AI should be thoughtfully integrated into your organization, serving as a partner that enhances your capabilities. The digital transformation means that AI has the ability to work for you and lead your foodservice business into a future where innovation and data-driven decisions reign supreme.

Ready to embrace the future of foodservice with AI as your strategic partner? Learn more here.

What can food intelligence do for you?