Confectionery sector seeking AI solutions could pave the way for key production breakthrough

There have been a number of standout developments within the confectionery sector in terms of finished product development in the past few years that have engaged technology to its best effect.

Among them, the lab created chocolate series such as those being created by World Confectionery Award winners WNWN Food Labs, plus 3D printing methods and industrial processing methods harnessing robotics, as well as the creation of an entirely new category of chocolate courtesy of Barry Callebaut, that have raised the overall bar for the industry considerably.

The latest tech-based innovation seeking to make its mark comes from Finnish dairy business Valio, which is deploying artificial intelligence (AI) assessment of consumers tastes and preferences to help create new chocolate recipes with 30% reduced sugar.

As the business noted itself, it is not directly seeking to enter into manufacturing these bars itself, yet it believed that its latest venture could strongly point the way forward for chocolate development in the future, combining a core focus on textures and tastes, while also offering healthier options.

Such a concept has for some while been considered the ‘Holy Grail’ for many companies operating within the sector, with the likes of Barry Callebaut, Cargill, and confectionery group including Nestle, Mondelez and Mars all exploring potential for reduced sugar options – but the use of AI into developing product ranges is a further potential leap forward for the industry.

Whether this is take up on a commercialised scale remains to be seen, but with such techniques being used across a number of industries already, perhaps it was entirely inevitable that the confectionery sector would come under the digital microscope eventually. Indeed, with science-based solutions being presented for the vegan and wider plant-based product market becoming an increasingly mainstream factor, the ability to utilise technology to create advanced flavours and textures for the sector has to be welcomed as an intriguing and potentially groundbreaking development.

Neill Barston, editor, Confectionery Production

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