Trend Tracker: Yili's AI platform, functional snacking, affordable novel protein and more feature in our round-up

By Pearly Neo

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Yili's AI platform, functional snacking, affordable novel protein and more feature in this edition of Trend Tracker. ©Getty Images
Yili's AI platform, functional snacking, affordable novel protein and more feature in this edition of Trend Tracker. ©Getty Images

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Yili's AI platform, functional snacking, affordable novel protein and more feature in this edition of Trend Tracker.

‘No silver bullet’: Yili reveals benefits, and limitations, of internal AI platform

Chinese dairy giant Yili believes that artificial intelligence (AI) in product innovation lies in formulation and efficiency improvements, but stresses it is no silver bullet to create good end-product results.

Yili developed its own internal version of AI platform Chat-GPT, dubbed Yili-GPT, several years ago.

It has sought to use this internally for problem solving across various business areas, has concluded that it is ‘useful but limited’ in terms of producing results.

“Yili-GPT was found to be very effective when we tried to use it to get AI responses to solve problems surrounding product and concept creation, but at the same time we found that it definitely cannot be solely relied on to create the desired end-product results,”​ Yili Digital Technology Centre General Manager Tiger Shang said.

India’s ProV Foods taps into unseized opportunities in functional and convenient snacking

Mumbai-headquartered ProV Foods is doubling down on healthy on-the-go snacks and flavour innovations, amid rising demand for snacks with functional benefits in the country.

There are several categories that remain untapped in India’s nascent healthy snacking sector, according to Shalin Khanna, co-founder and CMO of ProV Foods​.

“One category that is underserved and has lots of space for innovation is ‘bars and bites’, such as nutrition bars. Post-COVID, increased health consciousness is a global phenomenon. In India, curated meals and diets such as paleo, ketogenic, and Mediterranean have picked up a lot of steam."

Mainstream by 2033? Affordability and scaling up ‘ever more important’ for novel protein sectors as regulatory challenges ease

The major novel protein technology sectors in APAC covering cultivated meat and precision fermentation now see scaling up and subsequent product affordability as the next important evolutionary milestone for the sector as regulatory pushbacks ease.

Novel protein development technologies such as cultivated meat and precision fermentation have come a long way since first bursting onto the food and beverage industry scene several years back, when these were considered far-fetched or impossible contributors to the global food supply.

While there has been significant pushback in some countries - such as Italy, which recently made headlines after banning cultivated meat​ production and promotion in the name of ‘protecting’ the local food system - there has been much more positive progress in the Asia Pacific region leading scaling up, commercialisation and product affordability to be much more prominent areas of focus here.

Wellness enhancement: How combined hemp and Ayurveda innovation could hold key to capturing mass market

India’s Hemp Horizons believes that a innovation approach combining the nutrition of hemp seeds with the wellness benefits of Ayurveda could hold the key to the sector appealing to a larger consumer base.

Food regulators in markets across Asia, notably India and Thailand, have loosened restrictions on hemp seeds and related products in recent years, with consumer interest also growing amid a strong health and wellness focus.

Hemp seeds boast a whole host of nutritional benefits from being high in protein and omega fatty acids to being anti-oxidative, but Hemp Horizon’s believes the integration of additional Ayurvedic herbs could boost the value proposition.

Best of both worlds: Plento to debut nutrient-rich snacks made from pea protein and cricket flour in South Korea

Insect foods start-up Plento is set to launch its range of baked crisps containing pea protein and cricket flour, which the firm claims counteract nutrient limitations of snacks made solely from plant-based protein, in South Korea this February.

Plento’s baked crisps are created with pea protein, cashew nut flour, flax seed, and cricket flour — the result of nearly three years of development at Singapore Polytechnic’s Food Innovation & Resource Centre (FIRC).

The firm is a joint venture between Bugsolutely Bangkok and Asia Insect Farm Solutions (AIFS) Singapore.

Massimo Reverberi, founder of Plento, believes that the company is the first to combine plant-based and insect protein to leverage the “advantages of both”.

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