sauce ia fast food

IA sauce arrives in fast food

At the end of 2022, the fast food sector in France reached 23.4 billion euros in turnover, quadrupling its size in 20 years. While the time spent on site is increasing (from 29 minutes in 2017 to 56 minutes in 2022), as is the average price of each order, fast food companies have understood that their raison d’être is no longer solely focused on the saving time during a meal break. To stand out, the customer experience counts and the emergence of artificial intelligence has added fuel to the fire.

The first changes come from the United States, with the chain Shake Shack and Wendy’s. In early May, in just one week, these big names in fast food have integrated AI in different ways, whether for recipe development or customer relations for order taking. Wendy’s, which plans to arrive in France, announced that it was integrating machine learning into its drive thru terminals (order to take away by car), when Shake Shack trusted AI to design vegan products approaching the tastes and textures of products of animal origin.

Two months earlier, it’s McDonald’s which was beginning to experiment with automatic terminals with a virtual assistance (chatbot) supposed to approach the capabilities of ChatGPT and be able to replace a real employee. Unfortunately for the company, the result was not up to par. Several videos posted by customers showed a tedious experience with the machine, adding items to the order, without considering other specific requests. The chain will still need to work on its device, but one thing is certain: it will be the norm in the future.

An AI to invent recipes

To avoid these same concerns, Shake Shack delayed its experimentation and worked for a year to establish its new recipes by an AI. For this, the company has signed a partnership with a startup called NotCo. Supported by Jeff Bezosit has developed an artificial intelligence program “Giuseppe” which is responsible for finding vegetable substitutes for animal products on its own, to invent new recipes for trendy products that will come as close as possible to the recipe initial in taste.

The first two products targeted by the experimentation of the IA Guiseppe are the milkshake and the Italian ice cream. They have just been marketed on a national scale, in the United States, enough to offer an alternative offer to that made up in particular of dairy products. NotCo technology “looking for matches in terms of flavor, texture, nutrition and other characteristics” to ensure that each recipe is different and can meet everyone’s tastes, we learn from the website of the startup launched in 2015 from Chile.

NotCo’s collaborations with the fast food industry are not limited to Shake Shack and dairy alternatives. Since 2015, the startup has continued to educate its AI so that it can be able to do the same with the meat. Burger King was one of its first collaborators and it would not be surprising to see Shake Shack or others entrust their burgers to NotCo in order to be able to develop their vegan alternatives to classic products, both savory and sweet.

Matias Muchnick, the CEO and co-founder of NotCo, said they were “ability to create delicious, cost-effective, bespoke versions of products; in record time and that appeal to the mass market.”

Employee or robot, that will be the enigma

As for Wendy’s, the arrival of its chatbot for in-car orders aims to not raise the same bad buzz than McDonald’s four months ago. For this, the fast-food chain called on Google’s cloud computing division. “You won’t know you’ll be talking to anyone other than an employee”declared the boss of Wendy’s, addressing future customers, while acknowledging that this with indeed the objective of “streamline” activities. To avoid any problem with the orders, an employee will ensure the proper functioning of the taking of each order.

In response to their collaboration with Wendy’s, the boss of Google Cloud explained that the case of developing a chatbot in the exercise of a drive thru was far from easy. In reality, “it is one of the most difficult” he said to wall street journal.

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