Digital Tool Uses Photos of Ingredients to Suggest Recipes

Kroger hopes the unique AI technology will help eliminate food waste.

October 16, 2020

CINCINNATI, Ohio—Kroger has launched an artificial intelligence-based digital tool that lets consumers access recipes by tweeting photos of products they have on hand, according to GroceryDive.com.

Chefbot, as the technology is known, analyzes food images that users send to @KrogerChefbot and then responds with a list of recipes using those ingredients. Shoppers can send Chefbot a photo containing up to three ingredients.

Kroger is marketing the new tool as a solution to food waste and as a way to improve sustainability across its operations—a goal other grocers also have articulated. Like other systems using AI, Chefbot is expected to improve over time, becoming more accurate in its ability to discern the content of photos as it gains experience analyzing images.

Presently, Chefbot can recognize almost 2,000 items and has access to a library of 20,000 recipes. For now, it’s available only via Twitter, but Kroger plans to add the capability to its mobile app.

As a major food retailer, Kroger can help prevent food from becoming unusable, and it has made that a marketing goal through a program called Zero Hunger Zero Waste. In addition, the chain hopes to boost excitement among consumers about the meals they cook at home as the pandemic continues to keep people from dining out.

In September, Kroger began allowing customers of the digital meal-planning service Dinner Daily to send grocery orders from its app to Kroger’s online ordering system. And as NACS Daily reported earlier this month, Kroger has also opened ghost kitchens at stores in Indiana and Ohio to give customers more prepared food options.

Kroger’s use of AI to help people build recipes reflects the company’s sense that pandemic-driven changes in eating patterns aren’t likely to fade 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,” said Rodney McMullen, chairman and CEO, Kroger. “We see a structural shift from food consumed away from home to food consumed at home.”

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