In 31 years, the world’s population is set to hit 9 billion. There are over 200,000 edible plant species, but most humans only routinely consume 200 of them. On top of all this, the world is currently facing a $600 billion nutrient access problem that is partially due to the fact that, in recent years, our produce has been testing with as much as 50% fewer nutrients than just decades ago. The way we do food needs to change, and AI is the solution.
When the average person thinks about ‘AI’, or artificial intelligence, certain themes or topics often come to mind. Sophia the robot. Alex Garland’s 2014 box office hit Ex-Machina. Robots taking our jobs and the fear that they will one day take over the world. This view is not only narrow-minded but also fails to acknowledge all the good AI can and is already doing for people all over the world — especially in the food space. The truth is, AI, when used for good, isn’t scary and it’s not at all what you think is. And most importantly, AI has applications that far exceed the confines of real, literary, and cinematic robots.
In full disclosure, AI is kind of a personal topic for us here at Journey Foods. And for good reason….our new (debut!) product, Journey Bites, which are not only delicious but nutrient-dense and pull from unique and biodiverse ingredients, wouldn’t be possible without AI.
In fact, our team of scientists and developers created JourneyAI, a living smart journal boosted by artificial intelligence and machine learning, in order to make sure that every product we put out is as healthy, sustainable, and uniquely biodiverse as possible.
But what does this mean?
We have built this AI out into a leading nutrition convenience database for research and product development, ensuring optimal delivery of global ingredients and bioactive compounds. Basically, our food formulations — like our energy boosting mango+cayenne and our digestion helping strawberry+chia — are identified, developed, and practiced by JourneyAI. It allows us to create 100% plant-derived Micro Foods with fresh textures and vivid flavors, boosted nutritional content, and extended shelf life.
Beyond what it does for the individual consumer, it allows us to increase our level and speed of innovation to be able to customize products for large populations across the globe. Artificial intelligence is different for Journey Foods than how most people see it. And for us, it’s about delivering more nutrients, better, and solving problems.
Journey Foods sees that AI and food go hand in hand. U.S. farmers, distributors, grocers, and retailers seem to agree with us.
Farming is a notoriously uncertain business. Craig Ganssle wanted to change that and created FARMWAVE. The app uses AI to collect and analyze data from farms. IT then allows farmers to identify bugs, weeds, and plant pathogens that may disrupt their crop yield. Less ruined crops mean more profit for the farmers who often struggle to make ends meet and it means more fresh food for people like you. Today, AI and machine learning offer the opportunity to bring a greater level of certainty to the notoriously uncertain business of farming.
The minds at Wholesome Wave have launched Wholesome Rx which also utilizes AI. No, it’s not about prescriptions that come in orange plastic bottles. It’s actually a payment platform that uses machine learning to collect data from your supermarket loyalty cards. It then analyzes that data and generates coupons for healthy foods, gives you diet recommendations, and offers incentives to its consumer users. It’s particularly important for one of its major users: Medicaid patients.
AI is changing how the world does food, and it’s not going anywhere.
From information in Stanford University’s inaugural AI Index, we know that the share of jobs requiring AI skills has grown 4.5 times since 2013 and global revenues from AI for enterprise applications are projected to reach $31.2B in 2025. But, as AI grows, there need to be ethical and consumer-focused ideas guiding that growth.
There need to be very transparent conversations around the development of AI-based apps and products as well as their intended use. In the food product world, the use of AI should be focused on concise nutritional and functional health development like we do at Journey Foods. The purpose of AI should not just be to streamline a process or make someone a lot of money, it should make consumers lives better. That’s our concern and we hope it stays on the forefront of developers minds in coming years.