Tastewise AI platform to guide innovation: ‘You have to be as dynamic as food trucks’

By Katy Askew contact

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock/ NicoElNino
© iStock/ NicoElNino

Related tags: AI, Artificial intelligence, Machine learning, Trends, trendspotting, Innovation

Israeli food tech start-up Tastewise has developed a food intelligence platform that provides real-time analytics of consumers’ “constantly changing” tastes and dietary needs.

The company, which came out of stealth mode last month, provides information on current industry insights, predictions and emerging food trends based on analysis of “billions”​ of social media posts, photos, restaurant menus, reviews and recipes.

Tastewise was founded by Eyal Gaon and former Google executive Alon Chen. It leverages a unique machine learning system to calculate future culinary trends by analysing these “critical”​ food and beverage digital consumer touchpoints.

Founders Alon Chen (left) and Eyal Gaon (right) - Photographer Omer Kalderon
Founders Alon Chen (left) and Eyal Gaon (right)

The platform is designed to assist food and beverage innovators to identify and respond to emerging consumer trends at speed, Chen told FoodNavigator.

As an example of the group’s AI and data in action, Chen said that Tastewise could identify that consumers are talking more about hummus. But beyond that the company then drills down in the data to see that beetroot hummus is actually what is driving excitement.

The data can also be broken down in a regional and local way so that businesses can see what consumers are talking about in a particular area.

This capability could help address a key challenge faced by large-scale food and beverage manufacturers, whose longer innovation pipelines leave them outflanked by more agile start-ups.

Tastewise believes that responding to this pressure requires a significant shift in how the US$5.75 trillion industry operates.

“Historically a slow-moving sector, the internet, social media and e-commerce have played major roles in accelerating and democratising the industry. Today’s heightened culinary consciousness has significantly impacted the global diet, its associated trends and superfood cycles, making the industry more dynamic than ever before.”

“In this new environment, all CPGs and restaurants whatever their size have to become as dynamic as food trucks and pop-ups. Tastewise provides the freshest analytics to help them stay at the forefront,”​ Chen commented.

Trends report: adventurous eaters and health seekers

To coincide with the launch of its platform, Tastewise released a trends report detailing the new trends it sees emerging.

“Today, many of us are adventurous eaters, constantly searching for new food experiences, while prioritising our health,”​ said Chen.

Tastewise Health & Diets
Screenshot: The rise of 'healthy' diets

Highlights of key trends include:

  • Spam musubi, bone marrow, ube, and truffles are becoming mainstays.
  • Zhoug is the new sriracha. 
  • There is $9bn demand for healthy food in restaurants across the US.
  • There’s a 246% gap in demand for vegan food in Boston, translating to $41.9m.
  • Denver craves fitness-related food -- with a 325% gap in unmet demand, translating to $33.5m.
  • San Antonio faces a 767% unmet demand for hand-crafted food, translating to $362m.
  • Philadelphia wants more organic options -- with a 387% gap in unmet opportunity, translating to $53m.

Bringing science to the art of food innovation

Tastewise is already linking up with food suppliers and, according to one testimonial, the insight it provides is transformative for business strategy and processes.

“By collaborating with Tastewise, we’ve been able to transform our strategy and decision making with real-time industry data and predictive analytics,”​ revealed Guy Heksch, global VP of Marriott International-owned Pure Grey Culinary Concepts Hospitality Group.

“Diving far deeper than simply understanding consumer preferences, their insights help us select target audiences, catch micro-trends as they sweep from neighborhood to state level and design menus to suit our guests’ tastes.

Tastewise platform is available at www.tastewise.io​. 

“Tastewise brings science to the art of creating innovative food experiences and propels us to act faster than ever before. Their technology is a complete game changer for us.”

Big data is big business

Tastewise believes conventional market research methods such as focus groups and questionnaires fail to capture the volume or depth of food insights at speed. This leaves restaurants and CPGs unable to meet market demand.

Leveraging machine learning, predictive analytics, computer vision and NLP processing, Tastewise’s AI-based approach now makes it possible to discover the latest trends on both local and national levels before they go mainstream.

“Big data is transforming big industries. As the food industry is undergoing immense changes, we are excited that Tastewise has the power to drive the transformation in decision making, providing critical business insights to enable hotels, restaurants and food brands to stay ahead of the curve,”​ said Tal Tochner from Pico Ventures, the lead investor at Tastewise.

Related topics: Science, Healthy foods, Prepared foods

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