Understanding and responding to food trends with Tastewise

The Crompouce: a cross between a croissant and a tompouce was a hit on social media. The idea came from a baker in Utrecht, but soon the crompouce was sold throughout the Netherlands. Top or flop: predicting what will be a successful food product proves difficult. “50 percent of innovations within the food and beverage industry fail,” says Alon Chen, CEO and founder of Tastewise. Thanks to this generative AI-powered consumer data platform, food companies stay informed about food and beverage trends, and can create the next best dish or product. The platform even helps them establish successful marketing strategies that speak directly to today’s consumers.

Tastewise was set up seven years ago by Chen and co-founder Eyal Golan. “The idea actually came from my mother’s kitchen. She’s a good cook and makes delicious traditional dishes. She constantly has to adjust the recipes because of her guests’ changing diets. Every time she has to search the internet: how can you adapt the recipes without losing the taste?”

Tastewise focuses entirely on the food and beverage industry. “This is a vast industry with a lot of resources and companies involved. There’s plenty of innovation, but many innovations don’t seem to make it.” This is due to various factors. The product may lack in quality, for example, or in taste or mouthfeel. The price may be too high, or the product may not score well in terms of health. “Timing is also important, as is marketing. You can have a great product, but without the right marketing, you won’t reach the customer.”

Eyal Golan and Alon Chen (Photo: Hadar Berl)

Developing fast
Many food producers don’t have direct contact with the consumer, making it harder to respond in a timely manner to their wishes. Staying informed about trends and developments within the food industry can take a lot of time. “Moreover, developments are now happening very quickly,” says Chen. “Previously, you mainly saw trends going from east to west and vice versa. It wasn’t until the trends had reached the UK or Scandinavia that the Netherlands caught on. We still see this happening, but trends also arise in other ways. Through social media, for example. A chef creates a unique dish, it gets shared, and then more and more restaurants start making it.”

Rainbow bagel
Producers no longer need to scour social media themselves to stay updated on trends. They can also discover them through the Tastewise platform. “We have a TasteGPT where you can ask questions. For example, ‘what are the top trends in Italian food in North America?’ or ‘what health claims matter most to consumers in London?’. You immediately get some insights that you can use.” The data behind Tastewise helps producers make a good choice: should I jump on this trend or wait for a bit? “To make that choice, you need reliable data. This goes beyond social media. For example, the Rainbow Bagel was popular here in Israel for a while. An Instagramable product. The popularity was mainly due to its appearance. If appearance is the main motivation for people to buy the product, the popularity probably won’t last.”

Air frying
On the other hand, air frying is a keeper, as Chen shows in various graphs. The number of online recipes using air frying as a cooking technique is increasing. The technique is also being used more and more in restaurants. The number of products for air fryers is on the rise. “Before you can decide if your innovation will be a success, you need to analyse where your data comes from. It’s also important to know which needs your product addresses. What questions does your product answer?”

People versus AI
If the product has a good reason to exist, then you need to market it well. Tastewise can also help with that. The platform can generate a marketing strategy, aimed at a specific target audience, complete with marketing texts and recipes. This takes a lot of work off the producer’s hands. However, Chen doesn’t think that people will be fully replaced by AI: “People who know how to use AI will replace those who don’t know how to use AI.” He also sees benefits of using the platform for companies in the ingredients industry, despite being further away from the consumer. “With a platform like Tastewise, you can show that you are aware of all developments and trends within the food industry. It also gives you the opportunity to react more quickly and with more success. You can make proposals to your customers for new flavours and products. This improves your competitive position.”

Want to learn more about Tastewise? Alon is giving a lecture during the IFFI Event on May 23, Artificial Intelligence in Innovation.

Alon Chen,
Co founder Tastewise

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