McCormick partners with IBM on AI to develop new flavors

Editor’s note: The following article appeared on on February 4, 2019.

By Holden Wilen

That new McCormick & Co. Inc. seasoning you buy for your summer cookout may have been created by a computer.

Hunt Valley-based McCormick is partnering with IBM Corp. to use artificial intelligence in flavor and food development. The spice maker expects new seasoning blends to hit shelves in the U.S. by late spring.

McCormick is trying to be among the first to utilize artificial intelligence for creating new flavors. The new product platform, called “ONE,” will take advantage of data McCormick has been collecting for more than 40 years about consumer taste preferences and palettes.

The initial set of one-dish recipe mix flavors includes tuscan chicken, bourbon pork tenderloin and New Orleans sausage.

Through artificial intelligence technology, McCormick believes it will be able to develop more creative, better tasting products for consumers and for its “flavor solutions” business, which supplies commercial customers. McCormick hopes to have the technology scaled globally by 2021.

McCormick (NYSE: MKC) declined to disclose the terms of the deal with IBM. A spokeswoman describes it as a “multi-year, signature initiative” that will drive business growth for years to come.

McCormick CEO Lawrence Kurzius spoke about the company’s use of new technology at last year’s annual shareholders meeting. McCormick began using artificial intelligence in 2017, he said, and reduced the need for prototypes by 80 percent.

Kurzius said in a statement on Monday that McCormick’s use of artificial intelligence highlights the company’s commitment to “insight-driven innovation and the application of the most forward-looking technologies.”

“This is one of several projects in our pipeline where we’ve embraced new and emerging technologies,” Kurzius said.

Kathryn Guarini, vice president of industry research at IBM (NYSE: IBM), said in a statement the partnership demonstrates Big Blue’s commitment to helping clients across any industry.

“By combining McCormick’s deep data and expertise in science and taste, with IBM’s AI capabilities, we are working together to unlock the bounds of creativity and transform the food and flavor development process,” Guarini said.

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