AI in the Pantry? IR Communications Insights from CAGNY 2024

By Jake Yanulis and Trevor Davis 


The world’s leading consumer packaged goods, food and beverage, and home and personal care companies are ramping up IR communications to highlight the opportunities they have to leverage AI as a means to drive growth and profitability. 


Last week, management teams from more than 30 consumer products businesses descended on the Consumer Analyst Group of New York (CAGNY) Conference in Florida to pitch their strategies and priorities for 2024 and beyond. While the consumer goods industry might not be the first sector you think of in the context of AI, it was impossible to ignore the notable rise in discussion around this topic – and its implied importance to future growth.  


Companies are approaching – and communicating – the AI opportunity differently. From supply chain efficiency to product innovation to marketing strategy, executives are hoping digital investments translate to more efficient operations, higher growth, increased profits and ultimately a better valuation. 


What We Learned 


  • Nearly half of companies that presented at CAGNY discussed the AI opportunity 


  • Focus on AI was equally weighted across a few core topics, with companies covering opportunities for supply chain improvement, advertising optimization and end-product innovation 


  • AI messaging was overwhelmingly tied to efficiency/productivity and growth (each comprising one-third of AI commentary) 


What We Recommend Companies Consider When Discussing AI 


  • Take investors on the journey with you – showcase the various areas of focus where AI could benefit your company, even if in the learning phase. While every company is at a different stage of AI adoption, Illustrative case study examples are essential to bring to life longer-term opportunities and value creation. 


  • Don’t lose sight of the consumer – while operational enhancements remain a key focus to enhanced profitability, amplifying opportunities for long-term growth requires highlighting ways that these efforts can help to reach and benefit the consumer. From more targeted advertising spend to the development of new and exciting products, the consumer engagement strategy cannot be lost in the CPG communication strategy. 


  • Empower your experts – companies looking to differentiate from peers and gain credit for an elevated focus on AI opportunities should showcase subject matter experts. Top executives (namely CEO and CFO) must understand how AI can support their long-term vision, but providing a platform for data and analytics experts will lend credibility to the importance of investments in AI and allow for a deeper look into key initiatives and their potential for success.