How AI and analytics are helping brands switch to plant-based products


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Two years ago Domino’s, backed by Jubilant FoodWorks, introduced Meatless’Unthinkable Pizza‘, making it the first Quick Service Restaurant (QSR) to add plant-based protein to its menu in India. Touted as a 100% plant-based chicken alternative, this pizza contains dairy cheese, which is suitable for vegetarians – not vegan. However, times are changing and new-age restaurants such as Pizzeria Bakery, Brick oven and others have introduced 100% plant-based pizzas with vegan cheese, going beyond toppings.

In conversation with Analytics India Magazinethe co-founder of Brick Oven, Sreeram Anvesh, said they were still in the early days, where revenue from herbal products is between 5-10%. “However, many vegetarians prefer to try it,” he added, saying vegan or plant-based cheese is something that melts and is very similar to dairy cheese.

Another food joint, Burger King, is also investing heavily in expanding its vegetable menus in different countries, offering tasty alternatives to anyone who wants a substitute for animal meat. It also plans to convert to all-vegan restaurants in a few select regions and locations in the coming months. Another popular food chain KFC is also launching herbal ‘Beyond Fried Chicken’ in restaurants around the world.

In July 2022, retail giant ITC launched sustainable plant-based protein products for consumers under its ITC Master Chef IncrEdible brand through two variants – “Incredible Burger Patties” and “Incredible” Nuggets. In India, there are about 48 plant-based meat startups. Some notables include Imagine the meats, Good point, EVO foods, and others. Recently, the American plant-based meat company Beyond meat Between the Indian market in partnership with Allana consumer products.

AI and analytics to the rescue

Many decisions and experimentations by some of these QSR and FMCG brands to introduce niche/emerging categories or products, especially herbal, redirect us to the use of AI and analytics on how they can quickly identify changing consumer behavior and preferences across all channels, and create personalized/personalized/personalized menu, recommendations and products.

Inspired by the popular of yesteryear Nirma Super Detergent Soap Cake Ad, Rahul Bharde of Jubilant FoodWorks explained that customization is key. He said personalization is something consumers want, but businesses need. “About 71 percent of consumers expect personalization,” he added, emphasizing what customers expect from companies – “to meet me where I am”, “to know my tastes”, “to offer something just for me”, “to contact”, etc.

Additionally, he said 70% of customers are likely to repeat purchases and refer to the brand with personalized interactions. “So how do you bring that personalization to where it’s hard to know customers because of the choices available today, and how do you create a personalized experience?” said Bharde, pointing to the framework they built at Jubilant FoodWorks.

“I call it the power of one because we need to know the customer on an individual basis to be able to provide the most meaningful experience,” Bharde said, touching on various fundamentals like the problem you’re trying to solve. solve for the customer, who to target and how to win customers.

Personal recommendation engine

Bharde said that at the heart of everything they do at Jubilant FoodWorks, data plays a central role, where the data platform collects data from a variety of sources, including clickstream, history contacts, real-time data feeds, comments and concerns, etc.

Later, based on the user, they build a personalization engine that focuses on the user’s personality, meal occasions, customer lifecycle patterns, user-product affinity, recommendation, relevance models, and supply and improvement models. Once these templates are deployed, the next steps are enabled, which include a magic cart, personalized user landing page, navigation, cross-selling and up-selling, offers and presentation of relevant content, as well as than other experiences. Finally comes business value, which measures conversions, revenue, and customer experience.

Personal recommendation engine (Source: Cypher 2022)

The future of food

This is just the start of a new era for niche categories and herbal products in India. According to a Bloomberg report, the plant-based food market is expected to reach $162 billion by 2030, from $29.4 billion in 2020. Industry growth is linked to changes in consumer behavior for environmental and ethical reasons.

As a result, many brands are now trying to meet consumer demand. AI and Analytics could act as catalysts and help brands identify customer trend early and stay ahead of the competition.

Bharde said that nationally, the number of times people eat outside of food in India is still quite low. He said that even if you compare with China’s position and look at the course, there is a certain level of average income per capita; after that, the QSR category explodes. “We’re at the crossroads, actually,” he added, saying we’ll see a lot of new players entering these niche categories.

“I’m sure there will be a lot more options available. The food will evolve – both in terms of the cuisines we try and the way we order,” he added, citing the origin of “Paratha Pizza” at Domino’s, where products are becoming increasingly local and global Another example includes Samosa Party’s Vegan mutton samosamade with 100% vegetarian ingredients.

Recently, MS Dhoni invested in a plant-based startup called Shaka Harry. He said that we have the choice to switch to smarter protein alternatives without compromising taste and texture. “The plant-based protein segment is an exciting consumer space,” he added.

Bharde of Jubilant FoodWorks said the category would see a lot of innovation in every way possible across channels, products and customer interactions. “I think we’re just getting started as an industry,” he added.


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Rozella J. Cook