Food Network has slowly been evolving its digital strategy over the years, moving away from using the web and mobile to just tease its cable programming toward creating original content and apps. It looks like that strategy may take an interesting turn by using data analytics to help consumers plan their meals and shop for food.
FN and its parent Scripps Networks Interactive have bought an Austin startup called Food on the Table that aims to use big data and partnerships with local grocery stores to help consumers plan and shop for their weekly meals. Austinpreneur reported the acquisition on Monday. I got confirmation from Food on the Table that the it is now part of Scripps, though we’re still waiting on more details. It does look like founder and CEO Manuel Rosso has taken on the role of VP of commerce for Scripps Interactive.
My colleague Stacey Higginbotham was impressed with the Food on the Table (and still remains a subscriber) when she first wrote about them in 2011:
“The final piece of this puzzle is the Food on the Table service (I said people should meet them during SXSW) which tracks grocery deals, allows me to submit my recipes, then delivers a meal plan that helps me use recipes to incorporate food that’s on sale. From there, I can generate my shopping list. I think it’s an extraordinarily disruptive service because it takes the act of applying data and technology to disrupt an industry, much like TiVo aggregated data on a variety of shows and channels, added a hard drive and changed the way people watch TV.”
Though we don’t know how Food Network and Scripps Interactive — which also owns the Cooking Channel, the Travel Channel, HGTV and the DIY Network – will integrate Food on the Table’s technology, there are loads of possibilities. Food Network may be primarily an entertainment outlet on TV, but online it’s become a huge resource for recipe and cooking techniques drawn from its on-air talent like Alton Brown and Ina Garten.
Considering the size and breadth of its content library FN could easily create a service that allowed it to use Food on the Table’s technology to generate meal plans based on its recipes alone, though it would be even more useful if users could bring in alternative recipe sources. For instance, if you’re in Southwestern frame of mind, you might be able to tell your FN/Food on the Table app you want to eat like Bobby Flay for the week. It could then scan all of Flay’s recipes (FN lists 1,731 of them) and compare their ingredients against sale items generated form your favorite local grocery stores. Before you know it you’ve got meal plan mapped out by a Food Network celebrity that even takes pains to spare your wallet.