Eye on AI - May 13th, 2022

Welcome to Aigora's "Eye on AI" series, where we round up exciting news at the intersection of consumer science and artificial intelligence!

 

This week, we’ll be focusing on two stories that show how the food landscape is changing within tech, including how one startup grocery store is using AI to compete with the grocery behemoths and one well-known CPG brand is using the metaverse to solve supply chain issues.


Enjoy!


Grocery Startup Leans on Tech to Outperform Competition



We begin with a look at the grocery market startup Nourish & Bloom out of Georgia, which hopes its innovative use of AI will allow it to outperform the competition and quickly expand. Founded by a husband-and-wife duo with a background in the food industry and tech, Atlanta’s Nourish & Bloom uses AI to give customers a "frictionless" shopping experience, including a contactless checkout system powered by computer vision (similar to Amazon’s system) and two delivery robots that drop off nearby orders.


“... the store's two delivery robots -- named Nourish and Bloom -- can take hot and cold orders to customers up to three miles away,” writes ZDNet contributor Stephanie Condon. “When a robot reaches its destination, the customer reads out their order number in order to open up the robot's belly, where their order is stored.”

Nourish and Bloom currently only has one location. But its founders, Jilea and Jamie Hemmings, intend to expand rapidly. Their plan is to open new locations throughout the Southern US and then nationally, with the goal of 1,000 stores in 10 years – a tall order, to be sure. But the Hemmings’ may just get there. Using proprietary algorithms to learn about store customers and partnerships with Intel and UST, they’ve already become adept at the quick pivot, offering more customer-driven experiences as they gain essential insights into how brands perform on the shelves.


“Nourish & Bloom worked with Intel and UST, a transformation solutions company, to implement their tech platforms,” continues Condon. “At the Intel Vision event this week, the chipmaker is showcasing the way the store is using Intel RealSense cameras, VPUs and other processors, and Intel edge technologies to make the "frictionless" shopping experience work.”

To supplement their tech-heavy approach, the Hemmings’ hope to establish a “warm, pantry feeling” at their stores, selling mainly locally sourced, healthy food. Working at scale with locally-sourced products comes with its own impediments. I’ll be curious to see how or whether they’re able to maintain that warm, pantry feeling as they expand, and how well they compete with larger grocery brands. If they’re able to demonstrate success, they may inspire other brands to harness AI to compete.


Kraft Heinz Enters the Metaverse to… Solve Supply Chain Issues?



Let’s continue with another seemingly unusual food brand move that may pay off dividends in the long run. According to the article “Kraft Heinz Thinks The Metaverse Can Solve Supply Chain Problem?” Kraft Heinz has partnered with Microsoft to enter the metaverse by creating a digital replica of its factories to try and solve – you guessed it – supply chain issues.


“With that digital replica, Kraft Heinz is identifying… different points where their supply chain can be automated,” writes TellMeBest contributor Kristi Eckert. “The virtual space is perfect for testing out different automation scenarios. In doing so, the company is confident that they can get more products out of their facility’s doors and onto grocery shelves much quicker.”

By moving into the metaverse, adds Echert, Kraft Heinz is essentially “future-proofing” itself, meaning it will be well-positioned to evolve as the digital future evolves. As Adam Hartner of Pepsi’s entertainment division noted, “…it’s critical for brands like ours to make sure that we are where those consumers are living their lives.”


We’ve already seen a wave of consumer brands entering the metaverse, from Nike’s NFT shoe collection to Coca-Colas ‘Byte’ flavored sodas and Etro, Dundas, Dolce & Gabbana, and Estée Lauder’s participation in the metaverse fashion week. CPGs have traditionally been slower to adapt. However, recent metaverse moves by Coca-Cola, Pepsi, and others, including this more recent move by Kraft Heinz, suggest slow-moving CPGs may soon be a thing of the past.





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