Developing new packaged foods and consumer goods can take a few years as companies research, prototype, and test products. In a society driven by social media, people expect trends to land more quickly on store shelves. Founded in 2018, AI Pallet uses machine learning to help companies visualize trends in real time and make them retail-ready, often within a few months. The startup, whose clients include Danone, Kellogg’s, Cargill, and Dole, today announced that it has acquired a $4.4 million Series A-plus membership co-led by Pi Ventures and Xfinity Venture Partners. Both will join the board of AI Palette.
The round also included participation from backers food tech venture firms Eggfunder and Decacorn Capital, and new investor Anthill Ventures. This brings the total amount of AI Palette, including the seed round announced in 2019, to $5.5 million.
AI Pallet is located in Singapore, with an engineering hub in Bangalore. Its customer base began in Southeast Asia before expanding to China, Japan, the United States and Europe.
Its customer base began in Southeast Asia and India and expanded to China, Japan, the United States and Europe. AI Palette supports 15 languages, which the company claims is the most AI-based tool for predicting consumer packaged goods (CPG) trends. Its funding will be used to expand to more markets and fill engineering and data science roles.
AI Palette was founded in 2018 by Chief Executive Officer Somasubhara Ganchaudhuri and Chief Technology Officer Himanshu Upreti, who met through “talent investors” who recruit and team up potential founders.
Prior to AI Palette, Ganachoudhuri worked in sales and marketing at Givaudan, the world’s largest manufacturer of fragrances and flavors. This allowed them to see how product innovation works for a wide variety of consumer products, from snacks and fast food to packaged goods. Many of the companies he worked with were beginning to realize that the two-year product innovation cycle could no longer meet demand. Upreti, an expert in advanced machine learning and big data analysis, previously worked at companies including Visa, where he built models that can handle petabytes of data.
AI Palette’s first product is the Foresight engine, which tracks trends like ingredients or flavors, analyzes why they’re popular and predicts how long demand will last. It also identifies “white space opportunities” or situations where demand is not met. For example, Ganachoudhuri said the COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people eat — they’re now eating health snacks six times a day in front of a screen — so companies have the opportunity to release new types of products. Is.
The Foresight Engine delivers relevant information, Upreti said. “For example, is a food item eaten on the go or in a cafe. Is a product consumed socially or in person? What is going on at children’s birthday parties? Of a specific product or ingredient For example, images provide information about product pairing and product format.”
The platform uses data from sources such as social media, searches, blogs, recipes, menus and company data. “Preference is given to data sets that are popular in each market, such as local recipes or food delivery apps,” Ganachoudhuri said. “And they are tracked over the years to determine growth trajectories with a strong degree of confidence.”
Some typical examples of how AI Palette’s technology has translated into new products include brands looking to launch a new flavor like potato chip or soda in a specific country. They can use the Foresight Engine to see not only which trends are trending, but which ones have the potential to become long-term favorites, so they don’t invest in a product that will lose its popularity almost immediately.
Many of AI Palette’s clients have used it to respond to new trends and consumer behavior patterns during the COVID-19 pandemic. Not surprisingly, people in many markets are interested in healthy foods or ones that boost immunity. For example, lemon and garlic are in high demand in Southeast Asia, while acerola and yerba mate are in trend in the United States.
On the other hand, “in China, taste is paramount even over health, as people are looking for food that will bring back a sense of normalcy,” Ganchoudhuri said. Meanwhile, there is a demand for products with longer shelf lives in India as people continue to combat the pandemic, but many consumers are looking for interesting snacks, kimchi and other Korean flavor specials to ease the boredom of the lockdown. are becoming increasingly popular.
AI Palette’s ability to work with multiple languages is one of the ways it differentiates itself from other machine learning-based trend-prediction platforms. It currently supports English, Simplified Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Thai, Vietnamese, Bahasa Indonesian, Bahasa Melayu, Tagalog, Spanish, French, and German, and is new to target European countries, Mexico, Latin America and the Middle East. There are plans to add more to it. .