As consumers, we have pretty high expectations for our food. We expect our ketchup or our frozen lasagna or our oreo cookie to taste the same every time, no exceptions. Producers and restaurant owners must also constantly keep up with changing trends as they adapt their menu and decide which food to pair with what. Needless to say, keeping quality consistent in a competitive market is a monumental task. Thus, the impact of Big Data on the food industry is growing.
To maintain the quality of its dishes, the Cheesecake Factory uses a Big Data tool from IBM to analyze data from all 175 locations in the U.S. By keeping track of structured data, such as supplier name and restaurant location, along with unstructured data, such as an ingredient that’s a strange color, the restaurant can better determine the cause of problems and potentially prevent them from happening in the future. This data will also be communicated in realtime, so that only food that is actually impacted will be recalled, instead of taking back everything to be tested.
This type of data analysis would be incredibly beneficial for producers, grocers and other restaurant chains as well. A bad batch of food can quickly turn into a public relations nightmare that costs the company in customer loyalty as well as lost profits and the expense of recalling and examining the tainted food. Thus, quickly identifying the source of a problem, and even stopping it before it reaches the customer plays a big impact on the company’s bottom line.
Keeping Up with Trends
Food Genius offers a data platform that gives insights into what dishes are trending as well as how to price and market them. The site tracks more than 360,000 restaurant locations with 110,000 menus and 16.3 million menu items. The platform uses this data to provide specific recommendations, such as which vegetable is popular with a certain type of pasta or how chicken is typically prepared when served on a particular dish. Access to these insights come at a hefty price, beginning at $2,000 a month and going up to $10,000 to access all of the features, but having a better understanding of what the customer wants is worth the large price tag to many in the food industry.
Finally, the food industry can take advantage of Big Data cloud computing, which offers Big Data analytics as a service, in order to optimize its marketing strategy. For example, real-time measurement of the effectiveness of a particular campaign would allow companies to fine tune its messaging and tactics in order to avoid waste and get the most value out of its investment. Restaurants could also analyse which meals a customer tends to order in order to provide recommendations or even send customized offers. Starbucks, for example, keeps track of what customers order and when, in order to entice them back with a personalized offer for a favorite item.
The food industry is just one more example of how Big Data is affecting every area of our lives, and with its promise of better product control and higher profits, we can expect to see more in the food industry adopting Big Data analysis soon.