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McCormick & Company, a pioneer in flavor and food innovation, and my team at IBM Research have created a novel AI system to help product developers more efficiently and effectively create new flavor experiences. This year, we will celebrate a milestone in our ongoing collaboration that's been four years in the making: Our first AI-enabled retail products will be available on grocer's shelves.
McCormick & Company heard about early work at IBM using AI to pair flavors and generate recipes. They reached out to IBM Research to explore AI's potential in their environment as a leader in custom flavor and food product development. You may be familiar with McCormick & Company as the name on the label of some your favorite seasonings and flavoring products. In fact, McCormick & Company has two segments. The Consumer segment has brands globally with a retail portfolio that includes spices & herbs, recipe mixes, extracts, condiments, marinades, stocks and more. The Flavor Solutions segment has a portfolio consisting of flavorings, branded food services products, condiments, coating systems and ingredients for food manufacturers, food service operators and restaurants around the world. Our work encompasses both segments.
Flavor - Experience - Creation - Domain - Science
Flavor experience creation is a challenging domain. The science of how humans experience flavor is not well understood. It's a combination of at least three senses: smell, taste and appearance. The idea that the tongue can be mapped into four taste areas (sour, sweet, salty and bitter) has been debunked. It's just not that simple. Most scientists agree there is at least one more taste (umami) and that tasting occurs in more places than just the tongue. Every taste receptor, wherever it occurs, can detect all five tastes. There is also is a genetic component involved which helps explain why some people experience cilantro as a delightful herb, while others experience...
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