Skip links

AI and F&B: A Necessary Evil?

Artificial intelligence (AI) has come under fire, even from those who are in the forefront of advancing its development, as a potential “evil” that could grow, if not properly controlled, to exert dangerous consequences on all of humanity. But momentum continues for efforts to apply AI to all aspects of business and personal endeavors, including the food-and-beverage realm.

Here’s an update on notable developments with AI and other technological advancements that could eventually come to have an impact on how clubs’ F&B programs are structured and delivered.

Don’t Know What You Want to Eat? We Do.

The same GPT (Generative Pre-training Transformer) technology used to create the ChatGPT “language-processing” tool and fuel a heated debate (and labor strikes) over whether software can adequately replace news reporters and scriptwriters is also being adopted by leading food companies to try to predict more precisely what their customers want to eat and how they want to eat it.

Tastewise, an AI-powered market intelligence platform designed for the F&B industry, launched TasteGPT, which it touts as the next generation of an AI solution that will help its customers, which include Nestlé, Campbell’s, Mars and PepsiCo, get quicker and more precise answers to questions such as:

  • What product ideas are the best fit for my Gen Z consumers?
  • What concepts should I invest my R&D budget in?
  • Where should I launch my new beverage product first?
  • Where is my competition under-represented and what can I do about it?
  • What should the focus of my next marketing campaign be?

With consumer trends and preferences ever changing, the founders of Tastewise say having real-time access to the most specific data available across all moments of consumption, including restaurants, home cooking and retail, is critical.

“The way consumers choose what to eat and drink is already influenced by AI in countless ways,” says co-founder and CEO Alon Chen. “But artificial intelligence without great data is just artificial. Extracting relevant, valuable insights requires data specific to your needs.”

An AI-powered conversational chatbot such as TasteGPT, the company behind it says, can enable users of any type, including restaurants, to:

  • Identify patterns and extract real-time insights to make data-driven decisions faster.
  • Get real-time product, dish, menu and marketing campaign recommendations.
  • Generate reports, including trends and ingredient pairings.

Eating Into Food Waste

Artificial intelligence is also being employed in the fight against food waste. KITRO, developed by a Swiss company, is a product/system that uses AI as the foundation for an automated food-waste data collection and analysis solution.

When the KITRO hardware and software is incorpo- rated with waste bins in a kitchen through what the company calls a plug-and-play installation, every item that is thrown away is captured and recorded by food type (lettuce, bread, etc.), and the data is then analyzed and quantified on a digital dashboard.

Problematic waste areas are highlighted and the system includes its own benchmarking tool, the company says. Properties/kitchens that serve 100-plus meals a day typically see the greatest ROI on the system, it adds.

Reducing Member Contact

While the need to bill to members’ accounts adds more layers to the payment process in club F&B venues, the trend toward contactless payment that continues to gather steam in the outside restaurant world may bear watching, as another way to help bring more speed of service and accuracy to clubs’ F&B operations.

Members of Panera Bread’s MyPanera loyalty reward program can now just swipe their palms across a scanner to pay for their purchases, through a partnership with Amazon One. Panera, which has more than 52 million members in its loyalty program, says it is the first national restaurant operator to use the palm-recognition technology, which uses biometrics to authenticate an individual’s identity and connect to a registered form of payment.

The technology was originally rolled out in Amazon Go and Whole Foods stores, along with stadiums and other venues. In addition to expediting touchless payments, it can also be linked with personal data to generate meal recom- mendations and other customized features.

With many clubs having already ventured into the biometrics realm for security purposes and to expedite access to fitness centers and other locations on their properties, extending the technology to F&B operations may be worth a look, as another possible way to address the staffing and service challenges now being presented by larger member- ships and greater dining demand.