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US firm develops AI-powered software to aid cheese matching and retailing

Posted: 3 July 2024

By Patrick McGuigan


It’s reshaping everything from education and healthcare to defence and the environment, and now Artificial Intelligence (AI) is set to change the way we buy cheese.

That’s the prediction of US tech company Preferabli, which has launched new AI-powered software in the UK for personalised cheese recommendations, pairings and recipes. Aimed at retailers, hospitality and consumers, the Preferabli system incorporates a database of thousands of wines, beers, spirits and cheeses created by in-house experts using 800 reference points including flavour, texture and aroma. 

The new software, which is currently used by around 2,500 outlets, including indie retailers in the US, uses AI to analyse the database and users’ preferences to tailor recommendations, providing information on similar cheeses, products to go with them and recipe ideas. It can be integrated into retailers’ online businesses or can be used in stores to discover new cheeses. 

Co-founder and CEO Pam Dillon told FFD that Preferabli helps increase purchase frequency and basket size, while saving on labour and improving retailers’ ranges.

“Businesses struggle to present the right products, at the right time, in the right way. Consumers struggle whenever they have too many choices. Preferabli solves both problems with software that markets and sells to individual customer taste preferences.”

AI is being used more frequently in the cheese industry. Farms are employing sensors, driven by machine learning, to improve milk yields and animal health, while cheesemakers and affineurs are investing in software that can understand and control cheese production and maturation parameters.

While there is widespread concern that AI could mean job losses across the wider economy, Dillon said Preferabli was designed to support staff rather than replace them by helping people navigate product ranges and make recommendations, while customers can use the software to do the same, sparking conversations with shop staff. The software can also be used to develop labelling and point-of-sale material, and to recommend shops.

“Our AI does not replace people. It’s about expanding and extending the experience.  People can’t hold 800 characteristics across thousands of products in their head. It’s about increasing sales and creating a dialogue.”

This article first appeared in the July 2024 edition of Fine Food Digest .