How the food industry is using big data

Big data isn’t just for marketing firms and government agencies. As one of the largest industries in the world, it makes sense that the food industry is adopting big data technology to better understand and serve customers.

From producer to supplier to restaurant, grocer and caterer, the food industry is an expansive and vital part of our economy, our basic survival, and our enjoyment. Being part of such a competitive industry means companies have to work harder and smarter to gain and keep customers. Big data helps brands analyse food and consumer trends, as well as sales, distribution, and brand awareness.

Here are a few ways the food industry is using big data to reach a wider customer base, increase efficiency and cater to the tastes of the consumer.
1. Product development

According to a recent study from Boston Consulting Group — “The Most Innovative Companies of 2014: Breaking Through Is Hard to Do” — companies who are strongest at innovation are three times as likely to rely on big data analytics compared to less innovative companies.

Nowhere is this statistic more realised than in Hampton Creek, the company behind the now famous condiment product, Just Mayo. As its name denotes, Just Mayo is a mayonnaise-type product made out plant-based proteins instead of eggs.

The product – currently flying off the shelves of America’s largest CPG retailers – was created out of a massive data mining process that required scientists to sort through 18 billion plant proteins and find those that made the best-tasting substitutes for the traditional ingredients of mayonnaise.

Without the use of big data, it would’ve been much harder for Hampton Creek to come up with the exact right formula for texture, chew, and emulsification that has made the Just Mayo product so akin to its more indulgent counterpart and popular among consumers.
2. Less subjectivity, more certainty

One of the greatest benefits of big data is that it gives precise answers to questions that are more often answered subjectively. Take for instance, the age-old adage: Everything is better with bacon. But, is it really?

Thanks to big data that question can and has been answered in a scientific manner. Staffers of Wired and the Food Network analysed over 906,539 ratings on and calculated the average rating for those recipes without “bacon,” then compared it to the average rating of those with “bacon.”

Turns out, recipes with bacon do in fact rate higher.
3. From seed to stomach
As population increases and resources diminish, farming has had to become more and more efficient. It has adopted new technology to keep up with demand. Many farmers are implementing new data systems that help with precision farming (seed depth, spacing, etc. to maximise yield per acre), smart machinery and data privacy to protect farms from the competition.

For example, John Deere has installed new data systems into their farming machinery, such as GPS and predictive analytic software, to help farmers increase productivity.

Big data serves the food industry in a myriad of beneficial ways by enabling decision makers to make more informed and intelligent decisions. From helping foodservice sales and marketing teams better understand customer preferences to streamlining the product development process for innovation teams, the implementation of big data is quickly becoming a best practice for smart and innovative foodservice operators and manufacturers.

What can big data could do for their your business today?
Source: Food Genius

Food Genius is a leading US technology and solutions provider delivering actionable insights for sales and marketing enablement to the world’s largest food companies.