AI in the AgriFood industry: exploring the endless possibilities of AI in food, drinks and agriculture

AI in the AgriFood industry: exploring the endless possibilities of AI in food, drinks and agriculture

By
Louise Burfitt
March 22, 2021

🤖 What is it?

  • Shelve any preconceived notions you might hold of robots from outer space: AI (Artificial Intelligence) simply means the ability of a computer to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. 

🤔 Tell me more…

  • At present, common AI skills include speech, image and video recognition, targeted movement, and more complex capabilities like analytics and predictions.
  • AI use in food and drinks manufacturing has been heralded as the fourth great revolution in manufacturing.

💡How did it start? 

  • The rise of digital tech in recent decades has affected almost every industry, including the food, beverage and farming sectors. 
  • And AI is already proving itself useful in a myriad of different roles - from agriculture to manufacturing, from market research to flavour creation. 
Source: Mordor Intelligence

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • AI is already playing a role in helping global conglomerates manage the food supply chain. In an increasingly international economy, supply chains are becoming more unwieldy and complex every day. This inevitably requires a great deal of management, oversight and inspection. But using AI can make this much more efficient and feasible, and reduce the risk of spoilage when ferrying perishable goods long distances. 
  • Companies working on AI-assisted supply chain solutions include Israeli firm Seebo, which uses skilled computers to forecast demand against supply and to prevent quality and yield losses. 
  • AI also comes in handy where sorting food is concerned. The food processing industry is the target market for companies like Tomra Food Sorting, based in Norway, which has developed AI-assisted sensor-based solutions for more efficient food sorting. 
  • In a similar vein, Japan’s Kewpie Corporation is deploying Google’s TensorFlow machine, which can automatically detect food anomalies, and determine which potatoes should be made into fries and which should turn into hash browns or crisps.
  • AI can also help when it comes to creating new food flavours and products. Able to analyse massive volumes of data in a short period of time and learn as it goes, AI has the potential to massively accelerate product innovation and predict future consumer trends. Startups working in this space include Singapore’s Ai Palette, Switzerland’s FoodUnite, Denmark’s Plant Jammer and Spoonshot in the USA.
  • Intelligent machines are also ready to help us grow better food. Industrial robotics are not a recent fad in agriculture, but by combining them with AI, there’s a whole new world of possibilities for innovation – farmers can use it to monitor crops and soil, for example, or for herd management. And intelligent farming robots like those by Saia Agrobotics and Root AI are keen to make the agrifood industry more efficient.
  • AI is also boosting the plant-based market: some companies, like Brightseed, are using intelligent computers to sift through data to find new and improved plant-based proteins. AI famously helped NotCo find the winning formula for their plant-based products.
  • And as if that wasn’t enough to get your head around, AI is also being used to improve food delivery, streamline the grocery shopping process and in food waste reduction.

🤷‍♂️Why

  • Companies using AI to produce new flavours and products aim to create novel offerings quickly and reach new customers in the process. Given its computing ancestry, AI can act more efficiently and quickly than humans. Data collection and analysis by machine can provide insights within hours!
  • Deploying intelligent machines also reduces the risk of human error and eliminates the biases that come with the territory when it comes to humans. 
  • When it comes to agtech, AI has the potential to reimagine the future of food production. And the same is true of food processing and manufacturing. As supply chains become ever more complicated and the climate affects food production, using intelligent robots to predict and perfect seems like a pretty solid plan. 
  • AI technology can also be part of the solution to the challenge of increasing demand for food, thanks to a growing population. Agtech startups are already using innovation in farming to increase yields and efficiency in food production.

👀 Who? (39 companies in this space)

📈 The figures

  • The market related to artificial intelligence in the food and beverage market was worth $3.07 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $29.94 billion by 2026. 
  • Meanwhile, the AI-in-agriculture market is projected to grow from $1 billion in 2020 to $4 billion by 2026 at CAGR of 25.5%.
Source: Extreme Tech

🥗 Case study: One 

  • One is a flavour-pairing AI computer developed as part of a partnership between IBM and American spice company McCormick.
  • The idea was to create new seasoning blends for flavour developers more quickly with the help of AI. Sure, computers can’t taste or smell, but they can apply data and come up with insights into flavor creation for food products. And that’s exactly what One is designed for. 
  • Current flavour blends dreamed up by the supercomputer include Tuscan Chicken, Bourbon Pork Tenderloin, Farmer’s Market Chicken, Glazed Salmon and New Orleans Sausage. 
  • The new flavours developed by One were generated by combining IBM's AI and machine-learning tech with four decades of sensory science, consumer preferences and taste data from McCormick.
  • AI can help in the process of flavour creation by suggesting combinations a person might not think of and by trawling through thousands of possible pairings quickly and efficiently - a task that would take a human months or years!
  • It also removes bias from the process - a chef might prefer certain flavours over others, but a computer has no such preference. And as the AI can learn as it goes, it can incorporate data about which products sold well and which didn’t.
  • Mccormick plans to continue using AI to increase the rate of innovation and meet the growing demand for a wider variety of flavours. One allows the business to respond to new flavour requests extremely quickly, helping them stay competitive.

🐄 Case study: Ida 

  • Ida is the brainchild of Dutch company Connecterra, the leading business where AI in the dairy sector is concerned.
  • Ida is its predictive AI platform, which began life as sensor tech and now is a full-stack technology and AI platform.
  • But what does that all mean, actually? Well, Ida’s been described as something akin to Amazon’s Alexa but for dairy farmers.
  • Ida collects data from individual sensors worn by every cow on a connected farm and then delivers it to the cloud to be analysed. And Ida can then learn from this data, alerting the farmer if a cow is unwell or if it registers a data point that seems out of the ordinary
  • Last June, the company raised €7.8 million in series B funding to accelerate Ida’s growth. It was the biggest ever series B funding round by a Dutch AgTech company.
  • Connecterra plans to use the money raised in its latest funding round to grow its project in leading dairy markets in Europe, North America and New Zealand, as well as further developing the AI tech that powers Ida. 

👍The good

  • AI is far quicker than humans. Intelligent computers can make decisions faster, sift through data more quickly and - thanks to machine learning - derive insights from information much more rapidly than any human. That will save businesses time and money.
  • And when AI uses algorithms - for example, when creating new food products or predicting consumer preferences - it can come up with new and alternative options that humans wouldn’t even think of. 
  • Computers also make far fewer errors than humans. This makes AI an incredibly useful tool for applications in food production, processing and hygiene. 
  • While AI is expensive to invest in at the outset, many companies are attracted to using this kind of tech because of the potential for higher revenues, improved margins and reduced costs in the long run.  
  • The use of AI in the hunt for realistic plant-based alternatives, and similar, could be huge when it comes to increasing consumer takeup of alt meats. This will have amazing environmental, health and sustainability benefits.

👎 The bad

  • There’s no two ways about it: AI and machine learning will create some job losses, especially among the lower-paid and lesser-skilled. Think robot waiters taking over from low-paid serving staff in restaurants. However, ultimately, research suggests that AI will create more opportunities and wealth than not, but it may take some time to get there.
  • AI doesn’t get it right every time, either. While using computational tech reduces the risk of genuine errors, it doesn’t get away from the fact that sometimes things come down to preference and judgment. So a computer might suggest a flavour combo that looks like it will work well in practice, but just doesn’t jive with people in practice. But hey, that happens in real life too.
  • There may also be issues around consumer acceptance of AI - the unknown tends to bring out a mediocre, or negative, response from the public to begin with. But as the technology becomes more widespread and knowledge about it grows, it’s likely customers will come round and realise the huge benefits AI can offer in the food industry.

💡The bottom line

  • AI isn’t going anywhere and in fact, it’ll only become more ubiquitous as costs decrease and acceptance grows. 
  • As the tech becomes ever more refined, expect to see AI at the forefront of food production, manufacturing and processing, as well as consumer insight and market research.

Become a FoodHack+ member to get unlimited access

  • Weekly 7-Minutes Trend Reports | Library of 60+ Reports
  • Proprietary FoodTech Database | Startups & Companies
  • FoodHack+ Insiders Community | Coming soon

🤖 What is it?

  • Shelve any preconceived notions you might hold of robots from outer space: AI (Artificial Intelligence) simply means the ability of a computer to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. 

🤔 Tell me more…

  • At present, common AI skills include speech, image and video recognition, targeted movement, and more complex capabilities like analytics and predictions.
  • AI use in food and drinks manufacturing has been heralded as the fourth great revolution in manufacturing.

💡How did it start? 

  • The rise of digital tech in recent decades has affected almost every industry, including the food, beverage and farming sectors. 
  • And AI is already proving itself useful in a myriad of different roles - from agriculture to manufacturing, from market research to flavour creation. 
Source: Mordor Intelligence

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • AI is already playing a role in helping global conglomerates manage the food supply chain. In an increasingly international economy, supply chains are becoming more unwieldy and complex every day. This inevitably requires a great deal of management, oversight and inspection. But using AI can make this much more efficient and feasible, and reduce the risk of spoilage when ferrying perishable goods long distances. 
  • Companies working on AI-assisted supply chain solutions include Israeli firm Seebo, which uses skilled computers to forecast demand against supply and to prevent quality and yield losses. 
  • AI also comes in handy where sorting food is concerned. The food processing industry is the target market for companies like Tomra Food Sorting, based in Norway, which has developed AI-assisted sensor-based solutions for more efficient food sorting. 
  • In a similar vein, Japan’s Kewpie Corporation is deploying Google’s TensorFlow machine, which can automatically detect food anomalies, and determine which potatoes should be made into fries and which should turn into hash browns or crisps.
  • AI can also help when it comes to creating new food flavours and products. Able to analyse massive volumes of data in a short period of time and learn as it goes, AI has the potential to massively accelerate product innovation and predict future consumer trends. Startups working in this space include Singapore’s Ai Palette, Switzerland’s FoodUnite, Denmark’s Plant Jammer and Spoonshot in the USA.
  • Intelligent machines are also ready to help us grow better food. Industrial robotics are not a recent fad in agriculture, but by combining them with AI, there’s a whole new world of possibilities for innovation – farmers can use it to monitor crops and soil, for example, or for herd management. And intelligent farming robots like those by Saia Agrobotics and Root AI are keen to make the agrifood industry more efficient.
  • AI is also boosting the plant-based market: some companies, like Brightseed, are using intelligent computers to sift through data to find new and improved plant-based proteins. AI famously helped NotCo find the winning formula for their plant-based products.
  • And as if that wasn’t enough to get your head around, AI is also being used to improve food delivery, streamline the grocery shopping process and in food waste reduction.

🤷‍♂️Why

  • Companies using AI to produce new flavours and products aim to create novel offerings quickly and reach new customers in the process. Given its computing ancestry, AI can act more efficiently and quickly than humans. Data collection and analysis by machine can provide insights within hours!
  • Deploying intelligent machines also reduces the risk of human error and eliminates the biases that come with the territory when it comes to humans. 
  • When it comes to agtech, AI has the potential to reimagine the future of food production. And the same is true of food processing and manufacturing. As supply chains become ever more complicated and the climate affects food production, using intelligent robots to predict and perfect seems like a pretty solid plan. 
  • AI technology can also be part of the solution to the challenge of increasing demand for food, thanks to a growing population. Agtech startups are already using innovation in farming to increase yields and efficiency in food production.

👀 Who? (39 companies in this space)

📈 The figures

  • The market related to artificial intelligence in the food and beverage market was worth $3.07 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $29.94 billion by 2026. 
  • Meanwhile, the AI-in-agriculture market is projected to grow from $1 billion in 2020 to $4 billion by 2026 at CAGR of 25.5%.
Source: Extreme Tech

🥗 Case study: One 

  • One is a flavour-pairing AI computer developed as part of a partnership between IBM and American spice company McCormick.
  • The idea was to create new seasoning blends for flavour developers more quickly with the help of AI. Sure, computers can’t taste or smell, but they can apply data and come up with insights into flavor creation for food products. And that’s exactly what One is designed for. 
  • Current flavour blends dreamed up by the supercomputer include Tuscan Chicken, Bourbon Pork Tenderloin, Farmer’s Market Chicken, Glazed Salmon and New Orleans Sausage. 
  • The new flavours developed by One were generated by combining IBM's AI and machine-learning tech with four decades of sensory science, consumer preferences and taste data from McCormick.
  • AI can help in the process of flavour creation by suggesting combinations a person might not think of and by trawling through thousands of possible pairings quickly and efficiently - a task that would take a human months or years!
  • It also removes bias from the process - a chef might prefer certain flavours over others, but a computer has no such preference. And as the AI can learn as it goes, it can incorporate data about which products sold well and which didn’t.
  • Mccormick plans to continue using AI to increase the rate of innovation and meet the growing demand for a wider variety of flavours. One allows the business to respond to new flavour requests extremely quickly, helping them stay competitive.

🐄 Case study: Ida 

  • Ida is the brainchild of Dutch company Connecterra, the leading business where AI in the dairy sector is concerned.
  • Ida is its predictive AI platform, which began life as sensor tech and now is a full-stack technology and AI platform.
  • But what does that all mean, actually? Well, Ida’s been described as something akin to Amazon’s Alexa but for dairy farmers.
  • Ida collects data from individual sensors worn by every cow on a connected farm and then delivers it to the cloud to be analysed. And Ida can then learn from this data, alerting the farmer if a cow is unwell or if it registers a data point that seems out of the ordinary
  • Last June, the company raised €7.8 million in series B funding to accelerate Ida’s growth. It was the biggest ever series B funding round by a Dutch AgTech company.
  • Connecterra plans to use the money raised in its latest funding round to grow its project in leading dairy markets in Europe, North America and New Zealand, as well as further developing the AI tech that powers Ida. 

👍The good

  • AI is far quicker than humans. Intelligent computers can make decisions faster, sift through data more quickly and - thanks to machine learning - derive insights from information much more rapidly than any human. That will save businesses time and money.
  • And when AI uses algorithms - for example, when creating new food products or predicting consumer preferences - it can come up with new and alternative options that humans wouldn’t even think of. 
  • Computers also make far fewer errors than humans. This makes AI an incredibly useful tool for applications in food production, processing and hygiene. 
  • While AI is expensive to invest in at the outset, many companies are attracted to using this kind of tech because of the potential for higher revenues, improved margins and reduced costs in the long run.  
  • The use of AI in the hunt for realistic plant-based alternatives, and similar, could be huge when it comes to increasing consumer takeup of alt meats. This will have amazing environmental, health and sustainability benefits.

👎 The bad

  • There’s no two ways about it: AI and machine learning will create some job losses, especially among the lower-paid and lesser-skilled. Think robot waiters taking over from low-paid serving staff in restaurants. However, ultimately, research suggests that AI will create more opportunities and wealth than not, but it may take some time to get there.
  • AI doesn’t get it right every time, either. While using computational tech reduces the risk of genuine errors, it doesn’t get away from the fact that sometimes things come down to preference and judgment. So a computer might suggest a flavour combo that looks like it will work well in practice, but just doesn’t jive with people in practice. But hey, that happens in real life too.
  • There may also be issues around consumer acceptance of AI - the unknown tends to bring out a mediocre, or negative, response from the public to begin with. But as the technology becomes more widespread and knowledge about it grows, it’s likely customers will come round and realise the huge benefits AI can offer in the food industry.

💡The bottom line

  • AI isn’t going anywhere and in fact, it’ll only become more ubiquitous as costs decrease and acceptance grows. 
  • As the tech becomes ever more refined, expect to see AI at the forefront of food production, manufacturing and processing, as well as consumer insight and market research.

Become a FoodHack+ member to get unlimited access

  • Weekly 7-Minutes Trend Reports | Library of 60+ Reports
  • Proprietary FoodTech Database | Startups & Companies
  • FoodHack+ Insiders Community | Coming soon

🤖 What is it?

  • Shelve any preconceived notions you might hold of robots from outer space: AI (Artificial Intelligence) simply means the ability of a computer to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. 

🤔 Tell me more…

  • At present, common AI skills include speech, image and video recognition, targeted movement, and more complex capabilities like analytics and predictions.
  • AI use in food and drinks manufacturing has been heralded as the fourth great revolution in manufacturing.

💡How did it start? 

  • The rise of digital tech in recent decades has affected almost every industry, including the food, beverage and farming sectors. 
  • And AI is already proving itself useful in a myriad of different roles - from agriculture to manufacturing, from market research to flavour creation. 
Source: Mordor Intelligence

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • AI is already playing a role in helping global conglomerates manage the food supply chain. In an increasingly international economy, supply chains are becoming more unwieldy and complex every day. This inevitably requires a great deal of management, oversight and inspection. But using AI can make this much more efficient and feasible, and reduce the risk of spoilage when ferrying perishable goods long distances. 
  • Companies working on AI-assisted supply chain solutions include Israeli firm Seebo, which uses skilled computers to forecast demand against supply and to prevent quality and yield losses. 
  • AI also comes in handy where sorting food is concerned. The food processing industry is the target market for companies like Tomra Food Sorting, based in Norway, which has developed AI-assisted sensor-based solutions for more efficient food sorting. 
  • In a similar vein, Japan’s Kewpie Corporation is deploying Google’s TensorFlow machine, which can automatically detect food anomalies, and determine which potatoes should be made into fries and which should turn into hash browns or crisps.
  • AI can also help when it comes to creating new food flavours and products. Able to analyse massive volumes of data in a short period of time and learn as it goes, AI has the potential to massively accelerate product innovation and predict future consumer trends. Startups working in this space include Singapore’s Ai Palette, Switzerland’s FoodUnite, Denmark’s Plant Jammer and Spoonshot in the USA.
  • Intelligent machines are also ready to help us grow better food. Industrial robotics are not a recent fad in agriculture, but by combining them with AI, there’s a whole new world of possibilities for innovation – farmers can use it to monitor crops and soil, for example, or for herd management. And intelligent farming robots like those by Saia Agrobotics and Root AI are keen to make the agrifood industry more efficient.
  • AI is also boosting the plant-based market: some companies, like Brightseed, are using intelligent computers to sift through data to find new and improved plant-based proteins. AI famously helped NotCo find the winning formula for their plant-based products.
  • And as if that wasn’t enough to get your head around, AI is also being used to improve food delivery, streamline the grocery shopping process and in food waste reduction.

🤷‍♂️Why

  • Companies using AI to produce new flavours and products aim to create novel offerings quickly and reach new customers in the process. Given its computing ancestry, AI can act more efficiently and quickly than humans. Data collection and analysis by machine can provide insights within hours!
  • Deploying intelligent machines also reduces the risk of human error and eliminates the biases that come with the territory when it comes to humans. 
  • When it comes to agtech, AI has the potential to reimagine the future of food production. And the same is true of food processing and manufacturing. As supply chains become ever more complicated and the climate affects food production, using intelligent robots to predict and perfect seems like a pretty solid plan. 
  • AI technology can also be part of the solution to the challenge of increasing demand for food, thanks to a growing population. Agtech startups are already using innovation in farming to increase yields and efficiency in food production.

👀 Who? (39 companies in this space)

📈 The figures

  • The market related to artificial intelligence in the food and beverage market was worth $3.07 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $29.94 billion by 2026. 
  • Meanwhile, the AI-in-agriculture market is projected to grow from $1 billion in 2020 to $4 billion by 2026 at CAGR of 25.5%.
Source: Extreme Tech

🥗 Case study: One 

  • One is a flavour-pairing AI computer developed as part of a partnership between IBM and American spice company McCormick.
  • The idea was to create new seasoning blends for flavour developers more quickly with the help of AI. Sure, computers can’t taste or smell, but they can apply data and come up with insights into flavor creation for food products. And that’s exactly what One is designed for. 
  • Current flavour blends dreamed up by the supercomputer include Tuscan Chicken, Bourbon Pork Tenderloin, Farmer’s Market Chicken, Glazed Salmon and New Orleans Sausage. 
  • The new flavours developed by One were generated by combining IBM's AI and machine-learning tech with four decades of sensory science, consumer preferences and taste data from McCormick.
  • AI can help in the process of flavour creation by suggesting combinations a person might not think of and by trawling through thousands of possible pairings quickly and efficiently - a task that would take a human months or years!
  • It also removes bias from the process - a chef might prefer certain flavours over others, but a computer has no such preference. And as the AI can learn as it goes, it can incorporate data about which products sold well and which didn’t.
  • Mccormick plans to continue using AI to increase the rate of innovation and meet the growing demand for a wider variety of flavours. One allows the business to respond to new flavour requests extremely quickly, helping them stay competitive.

🐄 Case study: Ida 

  • Ida is the brainchild of Dutch company Connecterra, the leading business where AI in the dairy sector is concerned.
  • Ida is its predictive AI platform, which began life as sensor tech and now is a full-stack technology and AI platform.
  • But what does that all mean, actually? Well, Ida’s been described as something akin to Amazon’s Alexa but for dairy farmers.
  • Ida collects data from individual sensors worn by every cow on a connected farm and then delivers it to the cloud to be analysed. And Ida can then learn from this data, alerting the farmer if a cow is unwell or if it registers a data point that seems out of the ordinary
  • Last June, the company raised €7.8 million in series B funding to accelerate Ida’s growth. It was the biggest ever series B funding round by a Dutch AgTech company.
  • Connecterra plans to use the money raised in its latest funding round to grow its project in leading dairy markets in Europe, North America and New Zealand, as well as further developing the AI tech that powers Ida. 

👍The good

  • AI is far quicker than humans. Intelligent computers can make decisions faster, sift through data more quickly and - thanks to machine learning - derive insights from information much more rapidly than any human. That will save businesses time and money.
  • And when AI uses algorithms - for example, when creating new food products or predicting consumer preferences - it can come up with new and alternative options that humans wouldn’t even think of. 
  • Computers also make far fewer errors than humans. This makes AI an incredibly useful tool for applications in food production, processing and hygiene. 
  • While AI is expensive to invest in at the outset, many companies are attracted to using this kind of tech because of the potential for higher revenues, improved margins and reduced costs in the long run.  
  • The use of AI in the hunt for realistic plant-based alternatives, and similar, could be huge when it comes to increasing consumer takeup of alt meats. This will have amazing environmental, health and sustainability benefits.

👎 The bad

  • There’s no two ways about it: AI and machine learning will create some job losses, especially among the lower-paid and lesser-skilled. Think robot waiters taking over from low-paid serving staff in restaurants. However, ultimately, research suggests that AI will create more opportunities and wealth than not, but it may take some time to get there.
  • AI doesn’t get it right every time, either. While using computational tech reduces the risk of genuine errors, it doesn’t get away from the fact that sometimes things come down to preference and judgment. So a computer might suggest a flavour combo that looks like it will work well in practice, but just doesn’t jive with people in practice. But hey, that happens in real life too.
  • There may also be issues around consumer acceptance of AI - the unknown tends to bring out a mediocre, or negative, response from the public to begin with. But as the technology becomes more widespread and knowledge about it grows, it’s likely customers will come round and realise the huge benefits AI can offer in the food industry.

💡The bottom line

  • AI isn’t going anywhere and in fact, it’ll only become more ubiquitous as costs decrease and acceptance grows. 
  • As the tech becomes ever more refined, expect to see AI at the forefront of food production, manufacturing and processing, as well as consumer insight and market research.

🤖 What is it?

  • Shelve any preconceived notions you might hold of robots from outer space: AI (Artificial Intelligence) simply means the ability of a computer to perform tasks commonly associated with intelligent beings. 

🤔 Tell me more…

  • At present, common AI skills include speech, image and video recognition, targeted movement, and more complex capabilities like analytics and predictions.
  • AI use in food and drinks manufacturing has been heralded as the fourth great revolution in manufacturing.

💡How did it start? 

  • The rise of digital tech in recent decades has affected almost every industry, including the food, beverage and farming sectors. 
  • And AI is already proving itself useful in a myriad of different roles - from agriculture to manufacturing, from market research to flavour creation. 
Source: Mordor Intelligence

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • AI is already playing a role in helping global conglomerates manage the food supply chain. In an increasingly international economy, supply chains are becoming more unwieldy and complex every day. This inevitably requires a great deal of management, oversight and inspection. But using AI can make this much more efficient and feasible, and reduce the risk of spoilage when ferrying perishable goods long distances. 
  • Companies working on AI-assisted supply chain solutions include Israeli firm Seebo, which uses skilled computers to forecast demand against supply and to prevent quality and yield losses. 
  • AI also comes in handy where sorting food is concerned. The food processing industry is the target market for companies like Tomra Food Sorting, based in Norway, which has developed AI-assisted sensor-based solutions for more efficient food sorting. 
  • In a similar vein, Japan’s Kewpie Corporation is deploying Google’s TensorFlow machine, which can automatically detect food anomalies, and determine which potatoes should be made into fries and which should turn into hash browns or crisps.
  • AI can also help when it comes to creating new food flavours and products. Able to analyse massive volumes of data in a short period of time and learn as it goes, AI has the potential to massively accelerate product innovation and predict future consumer trends. Startups working in this space include Singapore’s Ai Palette, Switzerland’s FoodUnite, Denmark’s Plant Jammer and Spoonshot in the USA.
  • Intelligent machines are also ready to help us grow better food. Industrial robotics are not a recent fad in agriculture, but by combining them with AI, there’s a whole new world of possibilities for innovation – farmers can use it to monitor crops and soil, for example, or for herd management. And intelligent farming robots like those by Saia Agrobotics and Root AI are keen to make the agrifood industry more efficient.
  • AI is also boosting the plant-based market: some companies, like Brightseed, are using intelligent computers to sift through data to find new and improved plant-based proteins. AI famously helped NotCo find the winning formula for their plant-based products.
  • And as if that wasn’t enough to get your head around, AI is also being used to improve food delivery, streamline the grocery shopping process and in food waste reduction.

🤷‍♂️Why

  • Companies using AI to produce new flavours and products aim to create novel offerings quickly and reach new customers in the process. Given its computing ancestry, AI can act more efficiently and quickly than humans. Data collection and analysis by machine can provide insights within hours!
  • Deploying intelligent machines also reduces the risk of human error and eliminates the biases that come with the territory when it comes to humans. 
  • When it comes to agtech, AI has the potential to reimagine the future of food production. And the same is true of food processing and manufacturing. As supply chains become ever more complicated and the climate affects food production, using intelligent robots to predict and perfect seems like a pretty solid plan. 
  • AI technology can also be part of the solution to the challenge of increasing demand for food, thanks to a growing population. Agtech startups are already using innovation in farming to increase yields and efficiency in food production.

👀 Who? (39 companies in this space)

📈 The figures

  • The market related to artificial intelligence in the food and beverage market was worth $3.07 billion in 2020 and is expected to reach $29.94 billion by 2026. 
  • Meanwhile, the AI-in-agriculture market is projected to grow from $1 billion in 2020 to $4 billion by 2026 at CAGR of 25.5%.
Source: Extreme Tech

🥗 Case study: One 

  • One is a flavour-pairing AI computer developed as part of a partnership between IBM and American spice company McCormick.
  • The idea was to create new seasoning blends for flavour developers more quickly with the help of AI. Sure, computers can’t taste or smell, but they can apply data and come up with insights into flavor creation for food products. And that’s exactly what One is designed for. 
  • Current flavour blends dreamed up by the supercomputer include Tuscan Chicken, Bourbon Pork Tenderloin, Farmer’s Market Chicken, Glazed Salmon and New Orleans Sausage. 
  • The new flavours developed by One were generated by combining IBM's AI and machine-learning tech with four decades of sensory science, consumer preferences and taste data from McCormick.
  • AI can help in the process of flavour creation by suggesting combinations a person might not think of and by trawling through thousands of possible pairings quickly and efficiently - a task that would take a human months or years!
  • It also removes bias from the process - a chef might prefer certain flavours over others, but a computer has no such preference. And as the AI can learn as it goes, it can incorporate data about which products sold well and which didn’t.
  • Mccormick plans to continue using AI to increase the rate of innovation and meet the growing demand for a wider variety of flavours. One allows the business to respond to new flavour requests extremely quickly, helping them stay competitive.

🐄 Case study: Ida 

  • Ida is the brainchild of Dutch company Connecterra, the leading business where AI in the dairy sector is concerned.
  • Ida is its predictive AI platform, which began life as sensor tech and now is a full-stack technology and AI platform.
  • But what does that all mean, actually? Well, Ida’s been described as something akin to Amazon’s Alexa but for dairy farmers.
  • Ida collects data from individual sensors worn by every cow on a connected farm and then delivers it to the cloud to be analysed. And Ida can then learn from this data, alerting the farmer if a cow is unwell or if it registers a data point that seems out of the ordinary
  • Last June, the company raised €7.8 million in series B funding to accelerate Ida’s growth. It was the biggest ever series B funding round by a Dutch AgTech company.
  • Connecterra plans to use the money raised in its latest funding round to grow its project in leading dairy markets in Europe, North America and New Zealand, as well as further developing the AI tech that powers Ida. 

👍The good

  • AI is far quicker than humans. Intelligent computers can make decisions faster, sift through data more quickly and - thanks to machine learning - derive insights from information much more rapidly than any human. That will save businesses time and money.
  • And when AI uses algorithms - for example, when creating new food products or predicting consumer preferences - it can come up with new and alternative options that humans wouldn’t even think of. 
  • Computers also make far fewer errors than humans. This makes AI an incredibly useful tool for applications in food production, processing and hygiene. 
  • While AI is expensive to invest in at the outset, many companies are attracted to using this kind of tech because of the potential for higher revenues, improved margins and reduced costs in the long run.  
  • The use of AI in the hunt for realistic plant-based alternatives, and similar, could be huge when it comes to increasing consumer takeup of alt meats. This will have amazing environmental, health and sustainability benefits.

👎 The bad

  • There’s no two ways about it: AI and machine learning will create some job losses, especially among the lower-paid and lesser-skilled. Think robot waiters taking over from low-paid serving staff in restaurants. However, ultimately, research suggests that AI will create more opportunities and wealth than not, but it may take some time to get there.
  • AI doesn’t get it right every time, either. While using computational tech reduces the risk of genuine errors, it doesn’t get away from the fact that sometimes things come down to preference and judgment. So a computer might suggest a flavour combo that looks like it will work well in practice, but just doesn’t jive with people in practice. But hey, that happens in real life too.
  • There may also be issues around consumer acceptance of AI - the unknown tends to bring out a mediocre, or negative, response from the public to begin with. But as the technology becomes more widespread and knowledge about it grows, it’s likely customers will come round and realise the huge benefits AI can offer in the food industry.

💡The bottom line

  • AI isn’t going anywhere and in fact, it’ll only become more ubiquitous as costs decrease and acceptance grows. 
  • As the tech becomes ever more refined, expect to see AI at the forefront of food production, manufacturing and processing, as well as consumer insight and market research.
The FoodTech news you need to know ✉️
Every Monday (12pm CET) & Friday (1pm CET) in your inbox