4 Generative AI Tips from CPG Trailblazers

How is the food industry responding to the rapid advancement of generative artificial intelligence? The Food Institute gathered four takeaways from industry trailblazers at the recent Generative AI Food Pioneers Summit, hosted by food and beverage data platform, Tastewise.

Generative AI is Accelerating Product Development

Generative AI is accelerating every single point of the product development process and that pace is projected to increase exponentially in the years ahead. To stay ahead of the curve, many food producers are adopting the technology — and working smarter, not harder.

Campbells Soup Co., for instance, has been leveraging AI for several years to track data and analyze trends. According to Craig Slatcheff, Chief R&D and Innovation Officer at Campbells, the company more than doubled its innovation output within 18 months of incorporating AI.

“We want to be the top-class company within food, and we measure that as innovation pace,” said Slatcheff, who also added that generative AI “is the next chapter.”

While still in its infancy, many food producers are already utilizing generative AI tools to reduce workloads tied to manual tasks, with some development steps that traditionally took months or weeks now being completed in days or hours.

“That’s real time and real value that’s given back to you to innovate against another project,” said Tess Sansbury, Director of Marketing, North America at Givaudan.

Generated Content is Not Trustworthy

Across the board, speakers agreed that information provided by generative AI cannot be taken at face value and must be coupled with human research.

“Generative AI does not return a null value,” said Tia While, GM of Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning at Amazon Web Services. “If it doesn’t have the answer…it takes the data it has and it creates something…from scratch, whether fact or fiction.”

“You can use data to tell any story you want, no matter what data you pick,” said Amy McDonald, President of MANE Inc. “We’ve got to really make sure that we’re training ourselves, our colleagues, our extended groups around how to ask the questions, how to use trustworthy sources.”

Adoption Will Favor Job Evolution Over Job Loss

The consistent need for fact checking and verification is a major area where humans come in and play their part, said While. “[Generative AI] will force us to rescale and rethink and find out how we can continue to add value.”

Furthermore, while AI can point developers in unique directions, the process of refining the product, telling its story, and getting it to market requires the human element.

“This is all about how people make choices. I think it’s really about crafting,” said McDonald. “Instead of getting all the crunching done, which took an enormous amount of time, that’s done for us now so we can put our energy into those other areas.”

The adoption of AI within the food industry will also necessitate a sharpening of critical thinking and decision-making skills.

“You are going to have to exercise those critical thinking muscles and make a choice about what you’re going to do with your resources,” said Sansbury. “And I think it’s going to be even harder, with so much more data, to make that choice and feel confident moving forward.”

The Future is Hyper Personalized

With Gen Z rising in the age of AI, While believes that personalization is no longer an option, its table stakes, and every company — whether B2C or B2B — should invest in tailor fitting products, experiences, content, or engagement.

“Companies that invest in personalization typically grow 33% faster than companies that do not, and they see [at least] a 20% impact on their bottom line,” said While.

“I think what we produce, the way we produce it, the way we market it, the way we take it to market, the way we elevate awareness, and the messaging around it will all be hyper tailored and have massive inputs as it relates to artificial intelligence and machine learning, especially generative AI,” While concluded. “It will drastically transform the entire industry.”

The Food Institute Podcast

Innovation isn’t accidental; companies that successfully innovate are rigorous and disciplined. SnackFutures Mondelez insights lead Barbara Schandl joined The Food Institute Podcast to discuss food innovation strategies in 2023 and shared her viewpoints on uncovering team members’ hidden skills and how curiosity is key for food industry success.