This U.S. Department of Agriculture chart shows food spending by sector in 2018. (Source:

AI Food Ordering Firms Need Human Touch to Excel

According to a story in the Wall Street Journal, software firms like were shocked into an ordering race as consumers began loading up on toilet paper and hand sanitizer, as well as food that ordinarily went to schools, airlines and travel centers. The COVID-19 crisis demanded an immediate response.

“We’re seeing it as a rallying cry to help the world’s supply chains run,” said Chief Executive Stephen Pratt to, whose firm shortened the forecasting windows for its algorithms from months to days. “There’s nothing more important right now.”

Kroger-owned data firm 84.51 LLC had its human analysts and algorithms adapt to “near-daily” shifts in demand from customers. Kroger stocks more than 2,700 stores nationwide. Meanwhile, worldwide food manufacturer Danone S.A. worked to adjust AI tools and feed them new data to help teams manufacture and move materials as needed.

Industry vertical suppliers of meat and dairy, too, had to make major adjustments.

Blue Yonder, whose software helps project demand for products like dairy and produce, started integrating Covid-19 death statistics from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention into its systems in late February to help them measure the scope of the outbreak and make better predictions as the crisis evolves. “

AI tools have proven indispensable for these companies to make fast computations and move supply lines faster and more efficiently as demands change.

Katharina Stenholm, senior vice president and chief cycles and procurement officer at Danone, said because of AI and machine learning, none of the company’s factories went idle for a lack of raw materials to process.