Like so many of us, I recall that my mother really knew her way around the kitchen. Her recipe for apple pie will always be — to me — the only way to make an evening snack. I say snack because she still reminds me how, along with two friends and much to my father’s disappointment, we once ate an entire pie in one sitting. Even now, years later, I look forward to going home for her meals. She was a healthy cook (minus the pies, I suppose) and managed to balance the tastes our family loved with the use of natural ingredients while maintaining enough variety that no one complained.
But I didn’t truly recognize or appreciate this skill of hers until I went away to college. Suddenly the task of selecting foods that were healthy, convenient and great tasting became a bigger challenge than my schoolwork. And as a university athlete (I was a rower), keeping up a healthy diet was essential.
In fact, it proved nearly impossible to find the right foods for me in my college cafeteria or at the local grocery store. And looking back, this makes a lot of sense. After all, the food industry is built for mass production, meaning taste profiles are built for the mass market. Gone were the days of finding healthy, natural foods that suited my tastes.
But things started changing when I met my wife six years ago. A PhD food scientist and also a great cook (like Mom), she introduced me to the complex world of food research. I found it fascinating. According to Nielsen, a staggering 85 percent of new consumer packaged goods fail. 85 percent! And the traditional food innovation process is a gamble — new products are often tested with nonstandardized methods and are not necessarily developed because that’s what consumers want, but rather because that’s what CPG (consumer packaged goods) and FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) companies think consumers want.
My business experience in technology companies was always in the back of my mind as I thought about how this could be changed. I thought that if the existing industry knowledge of flavor science and nutrition could be combined with emerging capabilities in online data collection and machine learning, FMCGs and CPGs could accurately design and produce healthy foods fit for individual tastes. In essence, the foods available in our local stores could be “just like Mom’s” and they would have a better chance of staying on supermarket shelves.
FlavorWiki is the realization of that vision. Consumers — that is, you — are the heart of our business. And it’s consumers’ flavor preferences and ideas for new foods that we combine with food product innovation to create healthy, successful new products. Our innovative technology is the key to making your voices heard by the FMCG and CPG industries. We’ll go more into the “how” in a future post.
At FlavorWiki, we believe in a future for the food industry where bespoke product creation, production and delivery is a reality. One where nutritional requirements, dietary needs and taste preference come together in a varied, exciting and sophisticated eating experience for every consumer. And we want to be part of creating that reality.
We’ll keep you informed every week or so about what’s happening in the FlavorWiki world and we’ll also explore topics like how an idea for a new ice cream flavor or chocolate bar actually makes it to grocery store shelves, what makes us like or dislike certain foods, and how food producers “profile” the flavors in their foods before the new products hit the market.
In the meantime, you can try my Mom’s Apple Pie.