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The golden ticket—AI in the chocolate industry

Artificial Intelligence
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With AI taking the world by storm, it can be said that sci-fi novels and movies weren’t wrong about its adoption and the subsequent rise. This got me thinking. What if there were other books and films that showcased a vision of artificial intelligence under the guise of a different genre? To my surprise, a very popular book made into an equally popular movie came to mind

But first, “The content expressed here are my opinions and not hard facts.”

Now that’s out of the way; I can share my controversial opinion in a risk-free and carefree manner. Could I please get a drum roll first? Okay, fine, fine, I’m telling you guys about the book. It’s ‘Charlie and the Chocolate Factory’. Both versions provided a glimpse of AI under the garb of a fairytale. Just like how Tim Burton displays his love for fairytales and technology.

You might be would be wondering, “AI in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory?” If you think as I did, you can conclude that Oompa-Loompas, in reality, were robots crafted with AI.   How else can you explain them performing different types of tasks in the factory to perfection?

Okay, enough of my controversial rambling. Now, let’s get back to the topic. Artificial intelligence may or may not have been showcased in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (it was). But now, it’s being employed in several chocolate factories worldwide. So, let’s delve deeper into how technology is starting to play a prominent role in producing our favorite sweet treat.

Development of unique and never seen before flavor combinations

Nunu Chocolates, a New York-based artisanal chocolatier, partnered with IBM’s AI platform, Chef Watson. They got together to develop novel combinations and custom recipes for chocolate truffles. Chef Watson employs artificial intelligence and Big Data to understand food at the molecular level. This helps it to understand the essence of culinary traditions to build unique flavor combinations to delight eaters.

That’s precisely what Nunu Chocolates and Chef Watson did while coming up with three unique varieties of chocolate truffles. These were lemon and Earl Grey caramel; strawberry and cranberry; and brown ale, espresso, yogurt, and lime zest (someone, please get me this). These flavor bombs received rave reviews from customers and critics alike.

In this case, Chef Watson generated these unique flavor combinations using specific parameters. For example, first, the chocolatiers would suggest an ingredient like lemon zest or espresso, and Chef Watson would work its magic. Next, the AI would search and add complementary ingredients to create a unique recipe. This also involved selecting the type of chocolate to use and then adapting the recipes to suit the flavor profiles of the chocolate chosen.

Isn’t it amazing that one of the world’s most beloved food is being refashioned and reinvented by some of its newest and cutting-edge inventions? This AI platform could even help out home cooks by providing innovative recipes and enhancing creativity. Chef Watson can also suggest four ingredients that can blend seamlessly. It might not sound much until you realize that it adds up to a massive number of possible combinations. Just plain and simple crazy!

Helps with authenticity

Have you ever wondered that the expensive single-origin Venezuelan dark chocolate bar you recently purchased, was in fact, single-origin and from Venezuela? Now, you can confirm the authenticity of that expensive chocolate bar with the help of, you guessed it, artificial intelligence. This became a reality with the help of Shannon Stitzel, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Chemistry at Towson University.

One in 10 food items across all food categories is either mislabeled or adulterated. In this case, the highest percentage of fraud belongs to the organic sugar and cacao markets. This data was published in a report by the research organization Ecovia Intelligence. The organization added that fraudsters could demand high prices for poor-quality dark chocolate. How? Simply by attesting that the cacao originated from a particular country. This is because it is difficult to trace the real origin of the cacao due to the numerous intermediaries before the point of sale.

Thankfully, the possibility of these scams occurring in the future will be difficult, thanks to Stitzel’s research. She employed AI to test the chemical signatures and the unique composition of the cacao compounds to learn their origins. Based on these successful experiments, she emphatically stated, “We were excited by the consumer ramifications of our work, as we felt we were at the forefront of answering the [food] traceability question, something that is relevant across the agricultural industry.”

She also said that soon it would be possible for consumers to examine the origin of food items, which would take place with the help of QR codes and RFID tags. She also added, “Consumers can use their smartphones to scan the information and see the entire farm-to-store traceability of the product. Prices could then vary based on how much they like the story.”

Provides valuable consumer insights

AI can also be used to provide critical insights about consumers that can assist chocolate manufacturers. A large percentage of products fail at the early stage of their lifecycle because they are not in sync with the needs and wants of the consumers.

Jason Cohen, the founder of Gastrograph, an AI-based organization that functions in the F&B product development industry, agrees with this statement. He adds, “That’s because these companies can’t predict consumer preference because they don’t have a measurement of what consumers are going to taste in that product.”

Here is where AI enters the picture and transforms the product by understanding consumer preferences. These include preferences about aromas, texture, and flavor. This will help in improving sales of chocolates or any other food item.

Callebaut did this when they launched a new type of chocolate in 2017, known as the Ruby Chocolate. They sent out a press release that stated, “Ruby chocolate meets a consumer need no chocolate ever did before.” The story behind this is that Callebaut employed AI to understand consumer preferences and tastes. This is when they discovered a new need among the millennials—hedonistic indulgence.

Lo and behold, Callebaut used this insight and how! They invented a new type of chocolate after dark, milk, and white. Knowing what millennials want before they even ask for it, only AI can pull this wonder off!

As you can see, AI is here to stay for good and has applications across diverse sectors. Whether it’s the chocolate industry, the automotive industry, F&B, travel, e-commerce, healthcare, or even publishing.

Enhance your business with artificial intelligence

AI has the potential to take your business to the next level while adding valuable insights. These insights can be used to improve your product and services significantly. Apart from this, AI has also begun to sync with cloud computing, thus providing businesses with an additional boost. Handling data, looking for insights, and enhancing customer experiences are the primary beneficiaries. Keeping these benefits in mind, AI can be used with various cloud services like Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, and Google Cloud. With the incorporation of artificial intelligence and the cloud, Machine Learning companies will be ahead of the curve while fulfilling the needs of their customers in building the next big thing!

Here is where we enter the picture. We, at Mutual Mobile, have vast experience in incorporating AI with the cloud and Machine Learning to elevate your business. You can take a look at our approach and contact us to learn more about our integrations with various use-cases for AI while I savor some fantastic 70% single-origin dark chocolate.

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Varun Mehta

Content Marketer

Between reading voraciously and writing for tech, it’s a marvel that Varun manages to find time to support Manchester United, savor single malts, and unwind to Pink Floyd!

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