- Kroger has launched an artificial intelligence-based digital tool that allows consumers to access recipes by tweeting photos of products they have on hand, according to a press release.
- The tool, known as Chefbot, analyzes food images users send to @KrogerChefbot and responds with a list of recipes that use the ingredients. Shoppers can send Chefbot a photo with up to three ingredients.
- Kroger is marketing the new tool in the context of its effort to eliminate food waste and improve sustainability across its operations — a goal other grocers have also articulated.
Kroger’s foray into using artificial intelligence (AI) to marry ingredients with recipe suggestions sits at the intersection of its efforts to reduce food waste and make eating at home more enjoyable as the pandemic wears on.
Like other systems that use AI, Chefbot is intended to improve over time. Kroger expects the system, which was developed in partnership with digital agency 360i, technology partner Coffee Labs and AI company Clarifai, to become more accurate in its ability to discern the content of photos as it gains experience analyzing images. The image-recognition tool, which can recognize almost 2,000 items and has access to a library of 20,000 recipes, is currently available only via Twitter, but Kroger plans to add the capability to its mobile app.
Kroger has acknowledged that as a food retailer and producer, it is in a position to help prevent food from becoming unusable before it gets into the hands of consumers. The company has incorporated that goal into its marketing through a program called Zero Hunger Zero Waste and called attention to steps it has taken toward its goal of eliminating waste in its operations by 2025.
The supermarket chain, along with other food retailers, is also taking steps to boost excitement among consumers about the meals they consume at home as the pandemic continues to keep people from eating out. In September, Kroger began allowing customers of the digital meal-planning service Dinner Daily to transmit grocery orders from the company’s app to the grocer’s online ordering system. Last week, Kroger announced it opened a ghost kitchen in a store in Indiana and plans to open another one in Ohio to give customers more prepared food options.
Kroger’s effort to use AI to help people build recipes reflects the company’s sense that the changes in eating patterns caused by the pandemic aren’t likely to fade anytime soon.
“Our data insights show customers are rediscovering their passion for cooking at home and have an aspiration to eat more healthy foods as a result of COVID. When we talk to our customers they tell us they plan to continue to prepare and eat more meals at home,” Kroger Chairman and CEO Rodney McMullen said during the company’s second-quarter earnings call in September. “We see a structural shift from food consumed away from home to food consumed at home.”