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AI in the Kitchen

June 5, 2023

Food | The Originate Initiative

Consumers are seeking a balance between convenience and control when asked about taking the emerging technology into the kitchen.

In an era where technology intertwines with our daily lives, AI chatbots have emerged as a valuable tool for assisting consumers, including the day-to-day meal planning. However, consumers often find themselves weighing the advantages and disadvantages of sharing their personal data. A survey* conducted by Hormel Foods shows consumers are willing to let AI make some decisions but are more comfortable when they can control what personal data can be accessed.

Consumers today lead busy lives, seeking convenience and efficiency. AI chatbots offer the potential to simplify meal planning and purchasing by providing personalized recommendations, nutritional information and grocery lists. These AI-powered assistants have the capability to analyze individual preferences, dietary restrictions and health goals to suggest suitable recipes and products. Such features can save consumers valuable time and effort, making AI chatbots an attractive option.

One insight Hormel Foods uncovered by surveying consumers* is that consumers are most willing to embrace AI’s potential to help them meet their goals, but are hesitant to share more personal data like browsing history or geolocations.

AI Recommending Meal Plans

Meals Based on Goals
specified by the consumer
Meals Based on Preferences
specified by the consumer
Meals Based on Location
grocery stores near their home or work
Meals Based on Personal Data
consumer’s browsing history

Hormel Foods also notes that consumers want to use AI to feel empowered to make decisions, and are less willing to let AI make food substitutions based on financial concerns*.

AI Recommending Substitute Foods

More Affordable Foods
based on a grocery list
Healthier Foods
based on a grocery list
More Affordable Foods
based on financial goals
More Affordable Foods
based on financial data

Another advantage of AI chatbots is their potential to learn and adapt to consumer preferences over time. By analyzing patterns and feedback, these bots can refine their recommendations, providing a more personalized experience. This capability aligns with the growing consumer desire for tailored solutions that meet their specific dietary needs and preferences.

On the flip side, critics argue that AI chatbots may lack the human touch and intuition required for nuanced meal planning. Some consumers fear that relying solely on AI recommendations could lead to a loss of creativity and personalization in their meals. Striking a balance between technology and human involvement remains a challenge, as consumers value the expertise and emotional connection that comes with human interaction.

The future of AI chatbots in the meal planning landscape relies on meeting consumer expectations and offering tailored solutions that align with their values.

* Toluna Start survey
United States sample
Primary- or Shared-Responsibility Grocery Shoppers
Ages 25-64
Fielded 4/26/23