Now more than ever, shifting consumer preferences are pushing food and beverage manufacturers and processors to constantly revamp their products. In search of new taste experiences, food processors are investing hundreds and billions of dollars in big data analytics and artificial intelligence (AI) to accelerate product development.

A new venture between Sony AI and Korea University seeks to explore whether two ingredients can make a hit new recipe. Their new AI mapping tool called FlavorGraph predicts the perfect pairing of two ingredients. Using information from molecules of a given ingredient, along with how that ingredient has been used in past recipes, FlavorGraph helps to achieve better pairing suggestions. By recommending complementary ingredient pairings, the AI tool helps chefs to come up with innovative creations, as well as drive new perspectives in food sciences as well.

Sony and Korean University researchers have noted that many chefs, gourmets, and food-related researchers have focused on studying food pairing for decades. Winning combinations of ingredients such as tomato and cheese, pork and apple, and garlic and ginger were made, based on the experience of experts or through intuition, making food pairing subjective and difficult to quantify. Many of these classic combinations were later explained with science, when researchers realized that ingredients sharing dominant flavor molecules often worked well together. At the same time, other ingredients that combine well may have vastly different chemical makeups. By examining both molecular information about ingredients and how they have been used in nearly a million past recipes, FlavorGraph holds a database with flavor profiles such as bitter, fruity, and sweet, based on 1,561 flavor molecules.

AI is continually entering our lives in new and exciting ways, and tools like FlavorGraph are the latest example of its meaningful relationship with food pairings. As science progresses and representations of food are made, more intriguing pairings of ingredients, and new substitutes for ingredients will emerge. These are exciting times indeed!