Firmenich creates the world’s first flavor entirely with Artificial Intelligence

Geneva-based Firmenich, the world’s largest privately owned perfume and taste company, is using Microsoft-powered Artificial Intelligence to serve consumers’ Food & Nutrition needs with speed, creativity and innovation.

The 125 year old Swiss company opened its d-lab, or digital lab, in Lausanne in 2018. Led by Firmenich’s purpose to create positive emotions to enhance wellbeing naturally, the d-lab’s mission is to drive what Chief Digital & Information Officer, Eric Saracchi, calls ”tech for good” through end to end value chain digital transformation. For Firmenich, this includes everything from collecting consumer insights through digital surveys to digital tracking of raw materials to ensure the most accurate and transparent supply chain traceability and optimizing plant safety.

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In February, Firmenich’s Flavors Division began one of these global insights studies with a series of surveys of 15k+ people across 22 countries. The goal was to predict and understand how the pandemic was affecting people’s food & beverage and nutrition needs. The findings showed a remarkable acceleration towards immunity-boosting foods and healthier eating, with a clear shift to plant based proteins.

As a leading global partner helping Food & Beverage companies create winning tastes and textures, Firmenich Flavors is helping its customers meet these consumer needs with winning products even more quickly. Whether that means offering eating experience of comfort and delight or addressing the larger shift towards healthier food & beverages, like plant-based meat alternatives.

Breakthrough creation of the world’s first AI flavor

This month, Firmenich announced the breakthrough creation of the world’s first AI Flavor, a delicious, 100% natural, lightly grilled beef flavor for use in meat analogs. This capitalizes on Firmenich’s unique palette of ingredients and SmartProteins™ expertise in plant-based protein alternatives. The company is now already in advanced testing with several new AI Flavors across the entirety of its core flavor tonalities.

This industry-leading milestone was made possible through Firmenich’s collaboration with Microsoft, using Microsoft’s next-generation Azure cloud technologies and Data & AI capabilities to leverage raw materials spanning the entirety of Firmenich’s broad databases. “This unparalleled technology enabled us to achieve this accomplishment, thanks to the enormous calculation potential offered by the Microsoft Azure cloud platform,” said VP of Firmenich’s d-lab, Philippe Glenat, “It allows us to work with large computation capabilities and the latest technologies with unmatched AI capabilities in a safe and powerful environment.”

“The Microsoft Azure Cloud platform will enable us to harness the unique creativity of our Flavorists for enhanced formulation,” Eric Saracchi, Firmenich’s Chief Digital & Information Officer, added “We’re empowering them with a precise flavor starting point, as well as additional suggestions for optimized ingredient combinations from which they can use their rich expertise to create bespoke tastes.”

“The exciting addition of AI allows us to offer more personalized consumer experiences, better leverage different raw materials and explore new creative leads,” said Firmenich Flavors President Emmanuel Butstraen, adding, “taking into account specific product parameters such as organic certified ingredients or specific regulatory requirements, the technology enhances our Flavorists’ capability to create superior taste solutions and accelerate our product development.”

Marc Cuénod, Account Executive at Microsoft Switzerland, is very excited about the result of the collaboration: “Augmented Creativity was at the core of the concept: by combining the creativity of their flavorists and the most advanced AI services from the Microsoft cloud, Firmenich is unlocking new business opportunities. This contributes to solving one of the biggest challenges that our society is facing: eat healthier food produced in a sustainable way. Firmenich impressively proves what meaningful digital innovation is all about.”

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