To say that AI has impacted every single aspect of human life would be an understatement. Industries ranging from banking to healthcare have integrated one or more AI tools in their operations. However, the impact that AI is already having on the food industry is without parallel, helping to lower food prices, increase the availability of certain products or ingredients, and prevent supply chain shortages.
AI is already helping companies sift through thousands of plant compounds to find the best ingredients for foods and supplements. Redbloom, for instance, uses AI to find ingredients for a hot sauce that doesn't cause gut inflammation. Up to 45 million people in the United States suffer from IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) and have to forgo spicy food as a result. This breakthrough means that these people no longer have to change their diet in order to maintain their health. Even so, it's only a sample of what's to come.
With AI, food companies can calm ingredients that trigger allergens. This would enable people who are lactose intolerant or allergic to ingredients such as nuts or chocolate to eat foods they wouldn't have been able to eat before. What's more, using AI to source specific ingredients could also make foods healthier and more nutritious than they are now. This would improve the quality of life for everyone. The foods people eat in the near future could help them sleep better, have more energy, and have a more robust immune system than in times past.
Food Waste Reduction
The World Economic Forum estimates that humanity wastes about 74 kg (163 pounds) of food per person, per year. The good news is that AI could reduce food waste in several ways such as notifying and assisting sellers in re-pricing perishable food automatically so that it can be sold at a discount before it goes bad. This is a win-win situation for sellers and buyers alike. Sellers would make money from foods that they would otherwise throw out, while buyers would get good deals.
Restaurants and retailers can also use AI to accurately predict demand for any given food item. This enables businesses to avoid buying too much inventory. Furthermore, restaurants and hotels are using AI to keep tabs on which foods are thrown out and then make portion size and menu recommendations to reduce waste. Following these recommendations enable eateries to meet consumer expectations while saving money on perishable food items.
Optimized Supply Chains
Artificial intelligence can also play a huge role in optimizing the supply chain. Its predictive abilities, which are already used to manage inventory, are also used by food manufacturing plants to predict supply and demand. AI can analyze past trends and records to let a manufacturer know if demand for certain items will rise or fall in the near future. This knowledge enables food providers to step up production of items that will soon be in high demand, thus avoiding shortages.
AI can also make up for personnel shortages in the food and beverage industry by doing jobs that were previously done by humans. Such jobs include making purchase requests, documenting and filling orders, making invoices and making/receiving payments, conversing with suppliers, and more. AI can also keep track of inventory to inform a food company if the supply of a food item is running low and/or getting close to the expiration date. Using AI can enable food companies to work faster and more efficiently than before, which in turn prevents supply chain problems that may lead to empty supermarket shelves.
AI has already had a huge impact on the food industry. Even so, the industry has only scratched the surface of all that AI has to offer. AI can completely change the way companies source, process, ship, order, and sell food. It can make food healthier than before by identifying new ingredients. It can expand dietary opportunities for people with food sensitivities by controlling the compounds that cause negative reactions. It's already helping to prevent supply chain shortages and eliminate food waste. This offsets rising food prices and also prevents environmental problems caused when too much food is dumped into landfills. In short, it's the answer to many of the problems food companies face and would improve life for every single person on the planet.