Conagra Brands Inc. has developed an artificial-intelligence (AI)-enabled platform that analyzes data sources, including social media and consumers’ food-purchasing behaviors, to identify trends and possible areas for product expansion, according to the Wall Street Journal.
The platform drove Conagra to introduce products such as Healthy Choice grain-free bowls and Reddi-wip Nitro Creamer.
Due to increased competition as well as changing consumer preferences and health-conscious trends, packaged-food companies are looking to revamp their offerings and invest in meat alternatives. Last summer, Conagra announced its $10.9 billion acquisition of Pinnacle Foods, the seller of Birds Eye frozen vegetables and Gardein veggie burgers.
Conagra’s AI platform evolved from a strategy spearheaded in mid-2017 by Conagra’s chief information officer Mindy Simon and Darren Serrao, Conagra’s co-chief operating officer. Their goal was to use technology to help drive growth, including the launches of new products under the company’s existing brand names.
Data from the platform showed that a specific segment of consumers, “flexitarians” who have mostly plant-based diets but eat meat occasionally, were also interested in compostable packaging. Those insights were used to develop grain-free varieties of the Healthy Choice Power Bowl, which launched in June.
Other data indicated that consumers would like to make coffee-shop-style drinks at home. That led to the May launch of Nitro Creamer and Sweet Foam under the Reddi-wip brand.
Before the AI platform’s creation, it was more difficult for Conagra to see such niche areas of potential growth, Simon said.
“We’ve reduced the time pretty dramatically in terms of being able to see the behaviors in the market and being able to execute on them,” she said.