Everyone, or at least most people, eat three meals a day. Food is so ubiquitous in everyday life and culture that we often forget its importance and the fact that it’s one of the largest economic engines in the country – it comprises over $1 trillion of the U.S. GDP. Given the importance, prevalence and diversity of this essential need, having deep and accurate data on food trends provides valuable insights into consumer preferences that fuel industry innovation. We are excited to welcome Datassential to the Spectrum portfolio and share our perspectives on how the company is using data to make the food industry more informed.
Based in Chicago, Datassential is a leading information services provider of highly curated, granular food trend, brand, and operator data and consumer and operator insights that is unique in the market. The information is accessed entirely through a sleek and easy to use web-based portal, called SNAP. Datassential has been collecting food data for the past 18 years, growing consistently and developing a difficult to replicate data set. The company’s data products are used throughout customer organizations to tackle a variety of use cases. The Innovation Suite is primarily comprised of MenuTrends, SCORES and Flavor. MenuTrends encompasses data from over 100,000 menus globally and enables users to track microlevel food trends with incredible accuracy. SCORES measures consumer preferences across tens of thousands of limited time offering menu items. Flavor tracks evolving consumer experiences across 4,000+ unique ingredient types… from absinthe to Zuccherati. The Sales Success Suite is primarily comprised of Firefly, which houses distinct data on 1.4 million foodservice and operator locations. Clients with specific business needs can engage Datassential’s diverse array of Custom Research solutions.
And, data on food is timely. Just ask any of the 600 attendees of Datassential’s Foodscape 3 Conference, where participants discussed food waste, the psychology of eating, authenticity, microfacial recognition software, and cell-based agriculture – all while helping to set a Guinness World Record for the longest charcuterie board.
Popular new food trends or a top-selling menu item at a restaurant are not as serendipitous as they may appear; they come from data based on consumer preferences, trending ingredients, and shifting consumption patterns. Consumer preferences are constantly changing as access to new and different types of food increases. For example, take the IPO of Beyond Meat. The company barely existed 10 years ago, and no one had heard of them until recently. However, Datassential was able to spot the plant-based meat trend well before that, having found an 87% growth in vegan items added to menus over the past four years.
The accelerating pace of innovation, research and development within foodservice is driving food manufacturers, restaurant groups, grocery chains, and distributors to turn to Datassential’s self-service platform, so they can engage, monitor trends and ideate in real time. As fast-paced innovation takes over, more and more food service companies are moving away from the legacy, custom research projects of the past. In the age of information and foodstagramming, these companies can no longer rely on six to nine-month market studies to inform product strategy, identify food trends, or gather consumer preferences. Instead, businesses benefit from on-demand, easy to manipulate data that allows them to keep up with customers’ often fickle tastes and preferences.
We have seen similar developments in other large market segments such as financial services and healthcare, where we have invested in vertical information services companies, which are changing the landscapes of these established industries. Similarly, Datassential is using information services to innovate and digitize the food industry, making it an exciting time for our partnership.
We developed a relationship with CEO and Co-founder Jack Li over a multi-year period, and we are excited to have the opportunity to partner together for the company’s next phase of growth. We see a unique opportunity to leverage our network and expertise to help the company further expand its product capabilities, invest additional resources into customer support and success, and to approach go-to-market more strategically.
Stay tuned as there’s much more to come from Datassential. For more information on Datassential and Spectrum Equity’s growth investment, please read the press release.