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Seizing the Edge with AI for Food and Beverage Companies

March 28, 20244 min
Yaseen Burt photo
Yaseen Burt

In today’s digital age, data has become ubiquitous. Flowing from myriad sources like social media, e-commerce platforms and complex supply chain systems, it holds the power to transform entire industries. Yet, for many food and beverage (F&B) companies, knowing how to deal with both historic and a constant influx of new information is a challenge.

Although F&B companies possess vast repositories of data, they frequently encounter challenges in extracting actionable insights from it, often resorting to well-trodden paths such as surveys and traditional market research methodologies. Fortunately, AI for food and beverage companies offers tangible ways to bridge the data divide.

The data disconnect

The key challenge isn’t in dealing with an overload of data, but in the way companies historically stored information in fragmented datasets. Software systems typically operated in isolated environments with their associated databases accessible only to their related applications.

But that was yesteryear. Today’s myriad external data sources makes it impossible for any company to function in a silo as it relates to gathering, analyzing, and acting upon relevant information. 

Staying ahead in a consumer-driven market

This disconnect has serious consequences for F&B companies operating in highly competitive and consumer-driven environments. An inability to integrate and analyze information effectively and expediently undoubtedly leads to missed opportunities or ill-informed business intelligence that hinder innovative thinking and the ability to anticipate and respond to shifting consumer trends.

How AI for food and beverage companies connects the dots

The solution to this conundrum lies in the very data F&B companies possess. When leveraged effectively through AI and other machine learning technologies, static data is transformed into a tapestry of consumer, market and product insights – each thread woven with rich context, nuanced understanding, and actionable intelligence.

For example, a beverage company looking to optimize its supply chain can do so by integrating data from production facilities, distribution centers, and retail outlets. This integration paves the way for an AI system to make previously undetected correlations between processes, systems and people to identify areas for improvement. 

On the customer-facing end, AI could uncover emerging flavor preferences based on consumer data from social media and market research, and tailor production accordingly, thus minimizing waste and while simultaneously maximizing customer satisfaction and elevating brand affinity.

McCormick’s recipe for success

Since 2019, McCormick and Co. has been reaping the benefits of artificial intelligence inspired innovation through its aptly named, “One”.  The platform’s AI algorithm sifts through volumes of data that include decades of recipes, food trends, consumer and research data to find subtle but crucial gaps between existing flavor offerings and increasingly individualized palettes.

One plots out uncharted flavor profiles or proposes new ingredient combinations based on consumer preferences and even predicts the success rate of its creations. According to the flavor manufacturer, “Using AI technologies will continue to increase our rate of innovation beyond what it is today, helping the company meet the growing demand for both a wider variety of flavors and for more intense flavors from consumers and industry partners alike.” In the fast-paced flavor game, that speed equates to a major competitive advantage. 

But AI for food and beverage companies isn’t replacing seasoning and other culinary experts en masse. Instead, the technology acts as the perfect innovation partner. “Using our proprietary co-creation process, Create IT®, our team develops flavors that are unique to customers’ products and brands, working with them through every stage of their product life cycle, from conception to formulation to commercialization.”

Embracing AI for a competitive edge

The potential applications of AI for food and beverage companies are vast and varied, from predictive maintenance in manufacturing plants to personalized product recommendations for consumers. However, realizing this potential requires a strategic approach to data integration and a willingness to embrace cutting-edge technologies.

As companies navigate this data-driven landscape, those that successfully harness the power of AI and data integration will gain a competitive edge, fostering agility, innovation, and customer-centricity. The food and beverage industry’s conundrum may be rooted in data overload, but the solution lies in leveraging that very data through the transformative power of artificial intelligence.

What can food intelligence do for you?