Marcel Koks, Infor’s food industry strategy leader, looks at how ML and AI will influence the food and beverage industry over the coming years
As ChatGPT and similar technologies dominate headlines and make their mark on our everyday lives, Artificial Intelligence (AI) as a concept continues to attract attention. When it comes to the food and beverage sector, businesses are already reaping the benefits of AI technologies. And, with the value of the market for AI in the food and beverage sector expected to reach a staggering $29.94 billion by 2028, the number of food and beverage businesses investing in AI is clearly on the rise. But uncertainty prevails leaving more questions than answers for much of the industry.
AI is the ability of a computer or machine to mimic or imitate human intelligent behaviour and perform human-like tasks. It performs tasks that require human intelligence such as thinking, reasoning, learning from experience, and most importantly, making its own decisions.
Machine learning is a subset of AI. It is computer systems that can learn and adapt without being explicitly programmed or helped to. Machine learning uses algorithms and statistical models to intelligently analyse data, drawing inferences from data patterns to inform further action.
Where does AI fit into the food and beverage sector?
Put simply, AI (machine learning in particular) has the potential to optimise all areas of food manufacturing, facilitating smart, industry-specific applications to improve every aspect of the supply chain.
With its ability to factor in an inordinate number of data values, parameters, what-if scenarios and other contributing factors, machine learning can produce accurate and timely recommendations. Ultimately, this provides a competitive advantage that it would be impossible to replicate otherwise.
Where is machine learning being used already?
In the aquaculture sector, leading animal nutrition company Nutreco has achieved additional production cycles of healthier shrimps, while at the same time using 30% less feed. Specifically, the business uses audio sensors in aquaculture to listen to the shrimps, understanding when they are hungry. Machine learning then determines when and how much the shrimps must be fed, which serves to lower the feed conversion ratio and shortens the shrimp production cycle, doubling production without huge intensification.
Leading global provider of goat and organic cow cheese, Amalthea, is using machine learning to make the cheese quality more predictable and to maximise yield, building customer loyalty and boosting sustainability. Previously, Amalthea could only manually analyse milk yield on a weekly basis, which made it difficult to adjust the process parameters to optimise the yield. By leaning on machine learning, Amalthea can now view the yields immediately in addition to receiving direct insight into what is causing a yield change. This has helped Amalthea to reduce its overall waste from manufacturing, as the company can quickly identify pain points and improve processes simultaneously. These changes have had a direct impact on the company’s profitability and bottom line: for every 1 percent increase in yields, Amalthea expects to save approximately 500,000 euros.
The considered application of AI technologies is helping businesses right across the food and beverage industry and supply chain, and this is only set to increase over the next few years. AI is already proving to be a driver of real efficiencies as well as helping businesses to plan for all eventualities.