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McCormick using AI to design flavours


February 5, 2019
By Bakers Journal
Image courtesy of Bryan Schneider

McCormick & Company, Incorporated, known for its spice blends and flavourings, and technology giant IBM publicly announced their research collaboration to pioneer the application of artificial intelligence (AI) for flavour and food product development.

McCormick is using IBM Research AI for product composition; The aim is to explore flavour territories more quickly and efficiently using AI to learn and predict new flavour combinations from “hundreds of millions of data points across the areas of sensory science, consumer preference and flavour palettes.” This is the first time AI has been used for flavour applications.

McCormick expects to launch its first AI-enabled product platform, “ONE,” by mid-2019. The company’s flavour developers created this product platform by combining IBM’s expertise in AI and machine learning with McCormick’s 40-plus years of proprietary sensory science and taste data, which includes decades of past product formulas and millions of data points related to consumer taste preferences and palettes. The new seasoning blends expect to be on U.S. retail shelves by late spring.

“McCormick’s use of artificial intelligence highlights our commitment to insight-driven innovation and the application of the most forward-looking technologies to continually enhance our products and bring new flavours to market,” said McCormick Chairman, President and CEO Lawrence Kurzius, in a press release. “This is one of several projects in our pipeline where we’ve embraced new and emerging technologies.”

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“By combining McCormick’s deep data and expertise in science and taste, with IBM’s AI capabilities, we are working together to unlock the bounds of creativity and transform the food and flavour development process,” said Kathryn Guarini, VP, Industry Research, IBM in the same release.

Pairing McCormick’s with leading AI research helped the company accelerate the speed of innovation by up to three times and deliver highly effective, consumer-preferred formulas. Through the ONE platform as well as several other projects in the pipeline, McCormick’s product developers are now using AI to unlock creativity, access new insights and share data with their peers around the world. The company plans to scale this technology globally by 2021.