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Key questions about artificial intelligence in the beverages industry: Q&A with GlobalData thematic analyst

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Carolina Pinto joined GlobalData's Thematic Intelligence Team as an Associate Analyst in September 2022. She is particularly interested in macro themes including ESG, regulation, and geopolitics. She is currently working with the consumer goods team on reports about emerging technologies.

Lara Virrey: What are the most exciting developments in AI for the beverage industry today?

Carolina Pinto: Every area of the beverages industry can benefit from more than one artificial intelligence (AI) technology. Computer vision technology is used to interpret images and videos and can be used for quality assurance in manufacturing and distribution processes. Predictive maintenance can also be beneficial in manufacturing.

AI sensors continuously monitor the condition of machines and other equipment in factory lines and predict when maintenance is required, helping reduce energy consumption and costs of maintenance.   

Conversational platforms can improve online experiences, customer service, and after-sales support.

Machine learning (ML) and other decision-making AI capabilities can help companies plan, identify, classify, and forecast. Predictive and behavioural analytics models can be used to curate new product offerings based on emerging customer needs and target marketing campaigns to desired audiences. Predictive analytics can also provide end-to-end supply chain visibility.

Other ML models can automate and streamline recruitment and onboarding, helping large beverage companies significantly reduce time spent on repetitive tasks.

Lara Virrey: How can companies in the beverage sector benefit from advances in generative AI in particular? 

Carolina Pinto: Generative AI is a relatively new AI technology, and adoption in the beverage sector has so far been limited. Generative AI can help simplify data analytics, speed up research and development, improve marketing and customer service experiences, and automate supply chain management. At the moment, the technology is mostly used for marketing purposes.

In March 2023, the company released a new AI tool, built by OpenAI and Bain. The 'Create Real Magic' platform combines the capabilities of GPT-4 and DALL-E 2 to help artists create marketing campaigns. In April 2023, AB InBev-brand Beck's released the world's first beer fully AI-generated beer. The company used ChatGPT and MidJourney to curate a recipe, design the packaging, and create a marketing campaign.

Lara Virrey: Which barriers to the implementation of AI remain in the beverage industry, and how could they be overcome?

Carolina Pinto: There are cybersecurity and intellectual property protection concerns associated with open-source generative AI tools that many companies are not addressing. The technology could transform beverage companies' operations, but a corporate strategy is necessary to mitigate potential risks.

Additionally, building AI models is expensive and not always necessary in the beverage sector. Instead, companies should regulate the use of open-source models and invest in training natural language processing (NLP) models with company data when necessary. Companies can also outsource AI services to reduce the cost of adoption.

For example, Coca-Cola also uses third-party AI algorithms to automate tasks across its supply chain. It uses Google's TensorFlow to automate its loyalty and reward schemes, Ripcord to consolidate its bottling distribution services, and Keelvar for procurement logistics.

Lara Virrey: Which companies are the leading adopters of AI technologies in the beverage sector? 

Carolina Pinto: AB InBev, Coca-Cola, Pepsi-Co, Heineken.

GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.      

GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence uses proprietary data, research, and analysis to provide a forward-looking perspective on the key themes that will shape the future of the world’s largest industries and the organisations within them.