Vegan milk made by robots? It may seem like something straight out of a sci-fi film but Latin American food tech company NotCo just made it a reality. Its plant-based milk—made by artificial intelligence (AI) and machine-learning algorithms—just launched at Whole Foods Markets across the country.
The plant-based milk, called NotMilk, is available in two varieties: NotMilk Whole and NotMilk 2% Reduced Fat. And similar to other brands, NotMilk is made from plant-based ingredients like pea protein and pineapple juice concentrate.
But what sets NotMilk apart from other brands is the fact that AI and machine-learning algorithms helped to create it. And NotCo’s CEO and founder, Matias Muchnick, says the AI system, named Guiseppe, helped make the plant-based milk taste nearly identical to that of dairy-based milk.
“We’ve always been convinced that taste is king. And if you don’t deliver the taste at the right price, you cannot compete with what you’re trying to replicate or to replace,” he told LIVEKINDLY.
The Making of NotMilk
Although the name NotMilk pays homage to the founding company, Muchnick explained the name also helps to bypass rulings that prohibit the word “milk” on plant-based milk products, such as the one that recently passed in Europe.
“We foresaw that coming. We know how powerful the dairy industry is. So we created this concept of creating transparency with the consumer, saying we’re not milk. We have all that you want from milk and nothing that you don’t want from milk,” he said.
Muchnick says the development process for NotMilk took about 10 months. The tech company was able to use data to better understand dairy-based milk on a molecular level.
“We needed to grasp a little bit the connections or the underlying patterns between the molecular components in food and the human perceptions of tastes, textures, smell, and color,” Muchnick explained. “So we created this algorithm to predict which combination of plant-based ingredients should result in the same sensory experience as milk.”
Guiseppe was then able to produce several versions of the plant-based milk. NotCo’s panel of experts taste-tested each product. They gave their feedback to Guiseppe, which the algorithm used to perfect a better version.
NotCo plans to launch NotMilk in other stores by 2021. But its main goal is to disrupt food categories altogether with its AI system.
“AI can be applied as a solution to so many problems in the food industry. We’re only beginning to grasp the reach of this platform,” Muchnick explained. “This is a very important moment, I think in the plant-based industry.”