Artificial intelligence now powering human taste

McCormick & Company and IBM announced an ongoing research partnership to pioneer the application of AI for flavour and food product development

One of the world’s biggest seasoning manufacturers is launching an AI-powered flavour development platform later this year.

McCormick & Company and IBM announced an ongoing research partnership to pioneer the application of artificial intelligence (AI) for flavour and food product development. According to a statement, the partnership accelerate the speed of flavour innovation by up to three times and delivers highly effective, consumer-preferred formulas.

Using IBM Research AI for Product Composition, product developers across McCormick's global workforce will explore flavour territories 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.

The aim is to set McCormick apart in its ability to develop more creative, better tasting products and new flavour experiences across both its Consumer and Flavour Solutions business units.

McCormick expects to launch its first AI-enabled product platform, ONE, by mid-2019, with a set of initial one-dish Recipe Mix flavours including Tuscan Chicken, Bourbon Pork Tenderloin, and New Orleans Sausage. The new ONE platform was specifically developed to deliver family-favourite flavours with the ability to season both the protein and vegetable. The new seasoning blends expect to be on US retail shelves by late (US) spring.

The company's developers created the 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.

"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 flavors to market," said McCormick chairman, president and CEO, Lawrence Kurzius. "This is one of several projects in our pipeline where we've embraced new and emerging technologies." 

VP of industry research at IBM, Kathryn Guarini, said by combining McCormick's deep data and expertise in science and taste, with IBM's AI capabilities, they are working together to unlock the bounds of creativity and transform the food and flavour development process. 

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.

McCormick & Company has US$5.4 billion in annual sales, and manufactures, markets and distributes spices, seasoning mixes, condiments and other products to the entire food industry – retail outlets, food manufacturers and foodservice businesses.

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