A major Spanish player in the global food sector, Cerealto Siro Foods, which introduces more than 250 new cereal products onto the international market each year, has incorporated IBM Watson (NYSE: IBM) into its food innovation process to help detect early trends and inspire new ideas.
Thanks to this work, the first of the company’s food products to be suggested by artificial intelligence is already on the market in the U.K. The new snack – rice cakes with pea and lentil – was developed in response to the latest consumer preferences for organic, high-protein ingredients that are suitable for vegans and celiacs, while being low in sugar and salt.
Cerealto Siro Foods sells over 4 million products every year. To maintain the right balance between high-volume productivity and innovation, Cerealto Siro Foods turned to IBM Watson artificial intelligence to find inspiration through the analysis of new trends, and reach the market more successfully.
“At Cerealto Siro Foods we are aware of the need to constantly adapt to the changing tastes and needs of the consumer and we put a lot of effort into developing foods that excite them. For this, we need to cutting edge technologies to help us anticipate demand”, says Juan Carlos Martínez, director of I+dea. “Since we have introduced artificial intelligence into our creative process, we have clear parameters to follow during our entire food innovation process”.
Together with IBM Services and its innovation partner I+dea, Cerealto Siro has developed an AI tool that analyzes and anticipates global consumer tastes almost instantaneously.
The tool, called I+Radar, incorporates the AI functionalities of IBM Watson such as Watson Knowledge Studio, Watson Natural Language Understanding and Watson Discovery News on the IBM Cloud to ‘listen’ to what consumers and experts are saying on public social networks such as Twitter, blogs, scientific journals and forums, and mainstream newspapers and magazines around the world.
Looking at the results of the tool, it is clear that consumers are demanding products that are low in sugar, salt, additives and fat, while being high in fiber and protein as well containing super-grains such as quinoa, chia, millet, spelt and oats. The tool is able to identify hyper-localized trends and detect when consumer attitudes begin to change. It can predict what ingredients are gaining in popularity or are associated with certain feelings and emotions.
In the case of the United Kingdom, I + Radar has detected a consumer desire to increase the intake of quality proteins, which respond to the preferences of vegans, vegetarians, celiacs and consumers who want to increase their fiber intake with grains and vegetable ingredients. Cerealto Siro also realized that as well as nutritional characteristics, U.K. consumers care about the sustainability of cultivation methods and the environmental impact of packaging.
“Artificial intelligence augments the work of the researcher when it comes to finding inspiration for creating new recipes and products. The food industry now has a powerful assistant to help avoid hours of work and provide deep levels of insight to support decision-making and suggest appealing combinations of ingredients you may never have thought of”, said the head of the Consumer and Retail sector at IBM Spain, Ángel Castán.