Woolworths partners with UK food tech start-up Spoon Guru, which uses AI technology to help customers find vegan, vegetarian, kosher and gluten-free foods

Woolworths partners with UK food start-up Spoon Guru. Photo: Peter Parks/AFP/Getty Images

Woolworths has followed up its $30 million investment in meal kits supplier Marley Spoon by launching a partnership with British-based food tech start-up Spoon Guru.

Spoon Guru has developed AI-based technology that helps consumers seek and filter foods and recipes based on their dietary preferences, health objectives. lifestyle choices and religion.

After launching an app in 2016 to help shoppers find health and specialty foods, Spoon Guru developed the technology into patented software that is being used by online retailers to enable customers to search for vegan, vegetarian, kosher and gluten, dairy, nut and sugar-free foods, and check nutritional information.

Using artificial intelligence, the platform analyses every ingredient and its nutritional value and allocates appropriate dietary tags to each product, enabling large, unstructured data sets to be easily searched and accurately filtered.

One of the first major retailers to embrace the technology was British supermarket chain Tesco.

Tesco’s online conversion rates have risen strongly since the search and filter technology was introduced in 2017, with some product searches leading to a sixfold increase in sales.

Spoon Guru says its technology also helps online retailers increase customers’ spending and return rates, builds brand loyalty and provides points of difference as shoppers seek personalisation.

Spoon Guru, which is chaired by former Asda-Walmart chief executive Andy Clarke, has now signed partnerships with Walmart-owned online retailer JET.com in the US, Ahold Delhaize’s Albert Heijn chain in the Netherlands, and Woolworths and its New Zealand supermarket chain Countdown.

‘Innovative solution’

Woolworths general manager for digital experience Ananth Sarathy said it was the first retailer in Australia to partner with Spoon Guru.

Woolworths started rolling out the technology on its site last month and now has 30,000 products indexed to align with specific health needs, such as gluten free, low fat, vegan and vegetarian.

“The platform will blend our in-house digital and data capabilities with Spoon Guru’s world-leading machine learning and AI to derive rich and detailed product attributes for our customers,” Mr Sarathy said.

“It’s early days but the initial response from customers using the filters has been positive, with many shoppers using the feature to build lists to shop in store as well as online.”

Spoon Guru co-founder and co-chief executive Markus Stripf said the technology provided an innovative solution to a worldwide pain point: the fact 64 per cent of the world’s population is on some form of exclusion diet.

“Whether this is due to allergy, intolerance or health and lifestyle choices, the demand for a more personalised approach to food shopping is clear,” he said.

Mr Stripf, a former music industry executive, developed the idea for Spoon Guru after his wife developed food allergies and struggled to find foods she could eat.

This article was originally published by the Australian Financial Review. Read the original here, or follow the AFR on on Facebook.

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