Time: 5 mins read

Cometh November 2020, we, at AI Palette, successfully launched the inaugural edition of the Transforming Food Insights Summit.  

Conceived as a platform to foresee the future of food through emerging digital technologies like AI and ML, the first edition of the summit hosted leading voices and minds across the Food and Beverage (F&B) industry ecosystem. 

On Day 2 of the summit, consumer insights, R&D, innovation, and marketing leaders from Givaudan, Diageo, and Kerry Group got together for a panel discussion titled – AI-Powered Product Innovations.

Moderated by Thomas Hayes, Food and Nutrition Analyst, Lux Research, the discussion probed the following key questions:

(click at the timestamp to start watching the discussion about that specific question) 

  • 80-85% of FMCG products fail post-launch. How can AI change that?  (click 0:43 to watch)
  • The business impact of AI (click 6:15 to watch)
  • Challenges in Adoption of AI and its limitations (click 12:48 to watch)
  • Building AI Capabilities in-house and partnering with Food Tech Vendors (click 20:38 to watch)
  • Future of AI in the Food & Beverage industry (click 27:15 to watch)

For our readers, who missed the live panel discussion, this knowledge bites blog is a memoir of Quotes to Remember and our learning from this enriching discussion.

We have also provided a link to the recording of this panel discussion, along with a form for you to send across your questions. We will make sure to share our honest opinions and beliefs. 

Spoiler Alertwe can all learn some change management lessons from babies in their nappies!

‘Quotes to Remember’ from the change-makers and believers of AI in F&B Industry:

Parth had all the panel members and live audience in splits when one of the audience members asked him about the limitations of AI tools in real-life business use-cases. Watch this discussion at 14:50
Enid mentioned this to be a fairly basic but a big challenge when Thomas probed about the obstacles Diageo has faced in the adoption of AI for F&B product development. Watch this discussion at 17:05
Marieke shared her vision for AI in F&B while responding to Thomas’s question about the role of AI in FMCG Product
Development. Watch this discussion at 3:28

Connecting the dots: Let’s decode insights from the panel discussion on the role of AI in F&B product development

Application of AI in FMCG Product Innovation and Development:

As early adopters, in varying stages, all panel members agreed that they have experienced measurable benefits by deploying AI tools in specific phases of their F&B product development processes. 

Marieke, from Givaudan, did not hesitate to mention that in the future, AI will become inevitable for F&B companies wanting to expand their customer base. 

And Enid shared a specific example of how AI has acted as an enabler of their customer-facing application called ‘What’s Your Whisky’ at Diageo. This AI-based Whisky Selector has been launched as a digital experience for their customers. 

It has helped Diageo to solve the age-old and deep-rooted customer pain-point around the difficulty in understanding various criteria and choosing the right Whiskey, which in itself is quite a complex and unique product category. 

Positive business impacts of AI:

While all the panel members shared the common pain-point of a high post-launch product failure rate of 80%-85% (in-fact some feel it can go up to 95%), but they also firmly believe that AI tools can bring more certainty by deriving objective insights and foresight through Big Data. 

Parth also highlighted how AI has enabled Kerry Group to crash the innovation lead time for its customers from three-six months to less than two weeks!

Parth attributed this success to AI tools and Big Data that enable access to real-time consumer insights as compared to traditional market research, consumer research, focus groups, and sensory research methods.   

Enterprise-level challenges in the adoption of AI and Big Data:

Panelists shared the belief that AI and Big Data are a complete flipside of traditional methods of market research and product development, known to the Food and Beverage industry since time immemorial! 

Though there is always an initial excitement around finding new answers through Big Data, soon this can give way to discomfort due to a lot of new questions that arise when enterprises began to decode truly the potential of Big Data.

This new journey within food and beverage companies, who are trying to know what they once didn’t know, calls for diligent change management and a strategy that ensures incremental wins

For early adopters, the priority should be to build the credibility of AI applications within their organizations.

Functional limitations of AI Tools and Applications in F&B:

Ability to be language agnostic and be able to decode the cultural nuances, especially for the Asia Pacific regions, emerged as a powerful insight and takeaway for audiences, moderator, and panelists alike.

This must-have served as ‘food for thought’ for the AI Food Tech ecosystem and gave our teams, at AI Palette, an opportunity to jump in joy and pat each other’s back!

The reason behind this impromptu celebration is our Foresight Engine, a language-agnostic AI and NLP platform that understands and unearths context in non-English/local languages. It reads and understands images too!

We continue to thank multiple customer validation and brainstorming sessions that we conducted in-depth, during the early days of Foresight Engine development. 

Build Vs Buy:

Food and Beverage, FMCG, CPG, and Retail businesses very well recognize the need for collaboration with external AI vendors and Food Technology companies, for their ability to complement and augment the in-house capabilities and their role in solving specific pieces of the AI puzzle.

In addition to this, our panelists also emphasized the fact that businesses will be able to deliver their unique differentiation only by decoding undiscovered insights from the length and breadth of their proprietary/internal data along with real-time consumer insights from external data. 

There was unanimity amongst the panelists in favor of building in-house proprietary AI and Big Data tools, for the prototyping stage of new product development, by on-boarding the required data science talent.   

Signing-off with the crystal ball prediction:

Thomas prudently concluded this interesting conversation by asking by when do panelists predict that more than 50% of new Food and Beverage Product Development will be enabled by AI, in one way or the other.

After a moment of silence and a quick search for the crystal ball, Enid put her bet on the next five years, during which she expects that 5G and Cloud Computing will further augment the data processing capabilities of the AI tools.

Marieke nodded in agreement and mentioned that she expects the disruption peak to occur in the next five years.

Crystal balling into the future, Parth’s analytical senses predicted that from the current levels, the contribution of AI in new FMCG product development should double in the next 5-10 years.

Thomas promised to check back with all the panel members about the State of AI in the F&B Industry in 2025 and we promise to continue to bring such valuable insights and our learning to all our readers and ecosystem partners.

The recording of this entire panel discussion is available here – Transforming Food Insights Summit 2020: ‘AI-Powered Product Innovation’ Panel Discussion

You can also send across your questions/comments/suggestions through this form –