You may never have heard of Ingredion, but odds are you’ve eaten their products, or products made using their products. Now they’re using AI to build a flavor platform to serve and even broader palette.

This article originally appeared on Transform with Google Cloud.

Tastes are constantly changing.

Remember bacon-flavored ice cream? Pumpkin-spiced everything? Five hundred kinds of coconut water. What about cotton-candy-flavored grapes? Add the dizzying array of appealing packaging claims including non-corn, non-GMO, non-grain, gluten-free, USDA organic, low-ABV, and today’s favorite, sustainable. It’s incredible food and beverage industry execs sleep at all.

Approximately 30,000 new food and drinks products are launched every year in the U.S., and despite exhaustive research and testing, the majority fail. One study estimated that new product failure costs the U.S. food industry $20 billion a year. Suffice it to say, food and beverage companies are hungry for more reliable ways to predict the future of flavor.

Enter Ingredion Inc., headquartered in the suburbs of Chicago, a global ingredient manufacturer serving customers in more than 120 countries. With 2021 sales of nearly $7 billion, the company turns grains, fruits, vegetables, and other plant-based materials into ingredients for the food and beverage industry, among other markets. While you may not have heard of the company, odds are you’ve tasted it, as much as three times a day, given the ubiquity of Ingredion’s products in such familiar foodstuffs as corn flakes, tomato soup and fried chicken.

It’s a fast-moving, highly experimental sector. The pressure to stay ahead of changing consumer tastes has meant Ingredion and others like it are constantly searching for ways to shorten the product development cycle.

“We’ve shifted from making single ingredients to making ‘food systems,’” says Bob Border, chief data officer at Ingredion. “Say, for example, Pepsi needed starch plus something else, with a certain viscosity or sweetness, we blend these elements together into a system, shortening their time to market.”

Keeping up has meant a continuous journey of business processing reengineering, according to Border—in other words, radical change enabled by technology. “It’s called digital transformation these days,” he smiles.

Continue reading this article at Transform with Google Cloud.

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