Cherrypick - apps & grocery shopping

Advances in artificial intelligence (AI) mean grocery shopping, particularly in the form of meal-planning and recipe apps, is a highly dynamic area that is seeing new entrants and innovation all the time.

April 17, 2024
Kathryn Race
April 17, 2024
Kathryn Race

Buying groceries and planning meals may sound like trivial tasks, but for many households they are nothing short of a logistical nightmare.

The number of variables to be juggled is staggering. Not only do you need to find tasty meals and ingredients, there are also increasingly complicated and nuanced dietary requirements to consider. Even in an average family, one person may be gluten-free; someone else may have gone vegan; another might be watching their blood sugar.

A desire to buy products with specific ethical, sourcing and sustainability credentials can further complicate matters. Plus, of course, there’s the need to avoid food waste and stay within a budget.

Creating shopping lists and meal plans that reconcile all those needs is hard work for humans, but it’s precisely the sort of task at which artificial intelligence (AI) excels. Given recent advances in AI, it’s no surprise that we’re seeing a growing number of services promising a smarter approach to grocery shopping.

These include retailer chatbots such as Carrefour’s Hopla and Ask Instacart as well as AI-powered apps like Samsung Food. Even away from AI, a variety of services such as Sorted Sidekick and the newly launched Famooshed look to make grocery shopping easier and redefine shoppers’ relationships with cooking, meal planning and food producers.

At Ceres, one service we're keeping a particularly close eye on in this context is Cherrypick.

Previously known as Lollipop, Cherrypick is a meal-planning and groceries app that wants to help consumers "eat better effortlessly". It does this by creating a weekly menu plan based on dietary preferences, with ingredients optimised across recipes to minimise food waste. Users can shop for those ingredients – as well as other groceries – through the app and also access step-by-step cooking instructions.

To an extent, you’re getting something close to Gousto or Hello Fresh but at supermarket prices: Cherrypick claims to be 30% cheaper than recipe boxes.

What makes Cherrypick stand out?

As mentioned, Cherrypick is not the only app providing such services, so why do we think it is especially worth watching?

First of all, it is partnered with some serious grocery retail players. Sainsbury's has been a partner for some time and its online grocery service is integrated with Cherrypick, which means users can buy Cherrypick ingredients through Sainsbury’s. More recently, in-store shopping with Asda and Tesco has become available through the app.

Cherrypick’s user experience is also a cut above the rest, featuring a smart, intuitive and uncluttered user interface.

The real point of difference, though, is the ability to tailor meal plans to personal health goals and requirements. Cherrypick has proved highly adept at responding to new and emerging health trends. Users can personalise recipe suggestions and meal plans based on a range of health goals, including ‘more veg’, ‘fewer carbs’ and ‘more protein’.  They can also exclude ingredients they don't like. Reflecting growing interest in plant diversity and the ‘30 plants a week’ goal, Cherrypick has recently added a new feature that allows users to track how many different plants they eat in a given week.

Intriguingly, it has also teased plans to help users cut back on ultra-processed foods by flagging UPFs in the app. Already, Cherrypick says its focus on scratch-cooking means users have managed to reduce their consumption of UPFs by an average of 26%.

What are the potential implications for food and drink brands?

On the one hand, meal planning apps could provide opportunities for brands to reach new shoppers, including through branded recipe suggestions. New routes to product discovery could also open up, especially for products that fit particular diets and lifestyles.

On the flipside, apps could limit brands’ ability to communicate directly with consumers. Shoppers who plan and buy their groceries through an app, experience products first and foremost through the lens of that app; brand marketing messages and on-pack claims play much less of a role. Having in-app labelling applied to products could also cause challenges.

Retailers could face a similar conundrum. While app user numbers remain small, this isn’t a problem – but how would they feel if more and more consumers saw themselves as app users first and supermarket shoppers second? It will be fascinating to see how this plays out.

For now, there’s one clear takeaway. Many consumers feel overwhelmed by the decision-making process involved in planning healthy meals and coming up with shopping lists that meet all their needs. A new generation of apps is plugging an obvious gap in the market by promising to make that process much less painful, and advances in AI are going to keep bringing new players into this area.

The way shoppers plan meals, generate shopping lists, discover products and decide what is and isn’t healthy could look very different in a few years from now.