With AI it pays to compare Apples with Oranges.

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At SnapRapid we work with clients across a broad spectrum of sectors, that’s largely down to the versatility of the technological solutions we’ve developed. It’s often said, you can’t compare apples with oranges, but that was before the miraculous rise of Big Data, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, all mainstays of the tech solutions we employ.

All these technologies are used by us to help Brands understand their position within a sector, sponsors their value through visual and written exposure and Brands find a perfectly matched influencer based on much more than followers.

Now we’re delving into the business of soft commodities, more specifically, the fruit futures market.

Orange Juice

Between 2001–02 and 2016–17, the Nielsen-measured retail U.S. orange juice market declined by 50%, Florida orange production declined by 70% and it’s a market that at it’s core, continues to look jaded. During the period 2001-02 to 2016-17 there was a 53% increase in price throughout U.S., so as one might expect price elasticity would have accounted for much of the early drop in consumption.

However, according to the FT, in February 2017, “There are nearly one billion more people in the World than there were in 2000, and yet the World, as a whole, drinks less orange juice today than it did then. Led by big drops in the U.S. and Europe, the World’s two largest markets for Orange Juice, Orange Juice consumption has shrunk in virtually every year this decade.”

Western countries began falling out of love with Orange Juice a long time ago, and as consumer tastes changed the landscape of breakfast tables, Orange Juice has continued to lose traction to other products.

This is no doubt partly down to the high sugar content in juice products but consumers habits have changed elsewhere too, embracing a breakfast-on-the-go mentality that has them buying up more convenient breakfast bars and yogurts. A lot of pressure is also coming from consumers who are turning to other options, including, other juices, such as Cranberry, smoothies and coconut water.

It’s quite clear then that the market for Orange Juice has detrimentally changed and the futures market has mirrored that change, “The frozen concentrated Orange Juice (FCOJ) futures benchmark traded on the Intercontinental Exchange was, during February 2017, trading at $1.67 a pound, down from a record high of $2.35. … It is a far cry from the frantic trading in the FCOJ market seen in the 1983 Hollywood film Trading Places, which starred Eddie Murphy.” Stated the FT. The May 2018 futures price is currently around $1.40.

Cider Apples

The challenge for Cider producers is that cider making is capital intensive, with presses in use a few weeks a year and farmers contracted to long-term 25 year contracts. With this in mind it’s obviously important to ensure that any of the big Cider producers have an understanding of the market for their products going forward. As the consumption trends of Orange Juice have been changing, so too has Cider drinking.

Strong growth in the decade to 2013, fuelled by the re-positioning of Cider as a cool over-ice drink, led by Magners, has come to an end. Sales by volume have declined for each of the past four years. Sales of Stella Cidre fell 36% last year according to a recent Westons report and Aston Manor Brewery, producers of Frosty Jack Cider is up for sale.

One of the big problems for U.K. makers is the growth in demand for Cider products using other fruits, such as mangos, which is being led by Swedish company, Kopparberg, whose products now account for 25% of the U.K. Cider market. The other is that outside of a few territories, such as U.K, Canada, SouthAfrica, Australia and the Nordic countries Cider is almost unheard of.

Cider Apples and Orange Juice

OK, you might say, we have two declining markets, in an every-changing fluctuating space, Orange Juice and Apple Cider where both wholesale buyers and sellers are reliant upon the futures markets for their trades, and it’s gone a bit wrong, what’s new?

Using the latest technologies – the ones with all the buzz around them – SnapRapid is working with one of the biggest buyers of Cider Apples to help them plan better. This year, they have had to pay out compensation to buy out futures contracts, it’s something they clearly want to avoid going forward and they are prepared look at the latest technological developments to help them do so.

The problem with relying on sales data and outmoded and limited in scope – but sometimes useful – market research is that Brands are not getting a full enough picture of their sector and future buying habits – now rarely translates to tomorrow. What we do is put together a sector Index, where we analyse all the Brands and generic data that comes from Social Media, collecting millions of data points, over a long period, that relates to the sector in mind, in this case Cider.

What we look for are Clusters – key associations – and once we have done enough Clustering we analyse the ongoing supply of data for change. It sounds quite simple, but I can assure you it’s not, firstly, we have be able understand unstructured data, we then have extract the noise from that data and finally using graphs we Cluster the content into very meaningful insights. We’ve got to understand what the data tells us that’s different and ultimately more valuable, combined with readily available sales data.

Not only are we helping one Cider producer get their apples in order, aiding their buying process by diving deep into millions of actual fan conversations and Social Media posts, but we are also helping them to understand what the extracted trends data means for the sector as a whole.

It really is game-changing stuff.

Having built our initial tool-set to help Rights Holder Brands such as UEFA understand their value through the World of sport by tracking the posts of and about sportspeople such as Brazilian, Neymar, we’re now closing in on the Brazilian Orange Juice market, as the same tools we developed for the sports, alcohol and influencer markets – the first Brand sector Index we developed was for 254 Gin Brands – can be used for both apples and oranges.

So, when someone next says to me “you’re comparing apples and oranges” I will say, “that is right, I am”.

AIalcoholapplesciderfutures marketmachine learningorangessocial media

Russell Glenister • 18th April 2018

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