When it comes to food and drink the expectations of the average consumer has risen considerably over the past few hundred years. Once upon a time we were thankful for any food we found.
Now, we’ve become a nation of fussy eaters, wanting only the best food, at the lowest of prices. Food and beverage companies are now turning to artificial intelligence (AI) as a way of dealing with this rise in consumer expectations.
AI can help food and beverage companies in a number of ways. Two of the most obvious are to help them find new products and to find ways to stay profitable.
But, as well as dealing with the rise in consumer demand, companies also have to deal with the shift in consumer buying trends going from big supermarkets to smaller, local outfits.
Consumable items such as mayonnaise, soda, and shampoo, are much more difficult to produce than you imagine.
“Once the ingredients and materials get into the building or assembly line to build the product, that’s where the challenge begins,” says Keith Barr, CEO of Leading2Lean, a provider of software for cloud-based solutions.
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“Machines were designed back in the day to run in a certain way. If anything doesn’t meet the exact standard to run that way (e.g. materials don’t show up in time or are out of spec) they just won’t run. Then when it stops, you have to manually stop and fix it.”
Lakeview Farms, an Ohio-based specialty food-maker, recently employed the use of Leading2Lean’s AI solution to reduce line downtime by 34%, lower repair costs by 15%, and reduce the amount of overtime the company had to payout.
Other areas that food and beverage companies have been employing the use of AI in include:
To heighten customer engagement
AI is great at helping to maintain strong relationships with customers. By closely monitoring social media activity and conversations, AI can quickly analyze consumer data in order to learn what they want and deliver it.
Image-based procurement. The time it takes to create order can be significantly reduced through the use of AI. Workers could take a photo of the item they want and use AI to match it automatically to that item on an automated database.
Inventory can be easily managed using AI and machine learning. Products could be detected as missing and a message then sent to the relevant staff to order replacements.
Personalized customer service
Chatbots and voice assistants are quickly becoming the norm in many industries, and the food and beverage industry is no different. Customer service will become more personalized as will the whole shopping experience.