How is AI used in the food industry?
Whether we’re talking about restaurants, large scale food manufacturing, or food processing, artificial intelligence solutions are already here. If you’ve got a business in these industries or working with businesses in these industries, it’s important to know how these technologies are used to improve the way we produce, sell, or serve food. What most of us have started to call food tech. So how is AI used in the food industry?
In this article, we want to go over some of the key processes and activities in the food industry that use AI in order to highlight its benefits.
Let’s start with the basics of food tech like sorting and packaging food. Fruits and vegetables come in different shapes, sizes, and colors, and as a result, they need to go through a sorting process to make sure they respect quality standards. In the past, this usually involved a lot of manual and repetitive labor and it proved challenging to make sure that health, safety, and quality criteria were respected.
Nowadays, companies can reduce costs, increase output, and improve productivity with AI solutions that use X-ray, LASER, cameras, NIR (Near Infra-Red) spectroscopy, and machine-learning technologies. As a result, they have more control over the food sorting and packaging processes. Not to mention that they can go through larger quantities quickly, safely, and cost-effectively. If you’ve never seen anything like this in action, check out this link.
This issue has become increasingly important in the food industry and is an area where technology can really make a difference. With access to data, artificial intelligence can aid in the reduction of water and energy consumption. For example, just think of how much water is used to clean fruits, vegetables, the equipment used in food sorting and processing, and so on. Or the fact that a lot of our food requires refrigeration, which consumes a lot of energy. Simply by monitoring and collecting huge amounts of data AI can help optimize all these processes.
Food waste is also a huge challenge. McKinsey calculated that AI could generate an estimated economic opportunity of up to $127 billion a year in 2030 in tackling food waste. For example, retailers can use algorithms to identify and sell food in their stocks before it goes bad. The same solutions can be applied in forecasting sales, thus allowing restaurants and retailers to overview their stocks and order just the right amount of food to avoid or considerably reduce food waste.
Even on an individual level, imagine your refrigerator letting you know when food is about to go bad so you can cook it or consume it rather than throw it away.
Health and cleanliness
Safety is a major concern in the food industry. And while automation certainly plays a role in reducing risk factors, it is by no means 100% percent foolproof against contamination. AI solutions are now able to ensure greater safety by identifying food residue or microbial debris in the machines used in food production, sorting, or packaging.
Simultaneously, it can also be implemented in restaurants or factories to ensure that staff is following health and safety rules – masks are worn correctly, headgear is on, gloves are worn when preparing food, etc.
Product Development & Decision Making
Product development in any field is challenging, and so it is in the food industry as well. Whether you’re trying to come up with a new beverage or a new dish for your restaurant, the better you are at correctly identifying consumer trends and needs, the more profitable and cost-effective you will be.
Industry giants such as Kellogg’s or Coca-Cola have been using the power of AI to develop new products, and pretty soon, these options will start to become cost-effective for restaurants or delivery services as well. In the meantime, we can already see AI in things such as kiosks or food service apps that give you recommendations based on your previous dining choices.
When it comes to food and beverage, customers are notoriously fickle and difficult to read (look at the success of Baconaise😊), but with the help of AI, companies, large and small, can simplify and reduce risks in product development. Which will also increase their appetite to experiment and come up with new dishes and products.
How can AI work for you?
As is the case with any other tool, Artificial Intelligence can help you or not, depending on how you use it and what you use it for. So before embarking on an AI project it’s important to find the right partner. At QTeam Solutions, we’ve helped both large and small organizations develop, upgrade, and implement AI solutions, and we can do the same for you.
Book a free 60-minute consulting session with us, and let’s talk AI.