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Artificial Intelligence

6_EditorLetterAs we head into the holiday season, the days are short and so is time.

I’m planning a holiday party and with almost 40 people who have RSVP’d, it’s going to require a lot of food and drinks. I don’t dislike being in the kitchen, but with a full-time job and family, I also don’t have time to spend hours and hours slaving away at nibblies and dessert for all of the hungry people I invited over. I will make some things, but yes, I will also take my points and head to the grocery store and buy all of the yummy things I need to serve my guests. That includes boxes of delicious hors d’oeuvres I couldn’t hope to replicate in my kitchen. I’ve bought and served them before and they, unlike anything I could produce, are always perfect and consistent in looks and taste. This is important when you want to make a good impression.

I imagine I am not unique in this. That is how and why this industry flourishes.

Now, what I do think about lately is what is inside of all that stuff I will be buying. Is it really bad or is it something I can live with on the odd special occasion or on those days when the kids only want chicken fingers or hotdogs and not the fresh stuff my husband and I are eating? Finding that “artificial intelligence” will take some time.

This is an issue that has really taken off the past couple of years and is collecting steam every day as greater numbers of manufacturers and restaurants pledge to remove at least some artificial ingredients. It is the top 2016 trend as identified by Mintel in our trends story: artificial ingredients are out. Fresh, clean label, pronounceable – however you say it – is in.

It’s going to be a challenge. Those of you in the industry know adding, removing or replacing ingredients takes a lot of time and effort. Consumers don’t know that nor do they care. They just want to be able to pronounce what is in their food and know that it’s not likely to cause them cancer in 30 years. It’s a challenge the industry absolutely must take on or risk being sidelined by competitors who do.

Like I said, it’s been on my mind a lot. There is a saying that great bodies are made in the kitchen, not the gym. I lost 50 pounds in the past two years improving my diet and exercise. I also have a nine-year-old who loves his sweet and salty snacks. It would be nice to know food companies are thinking about it too.

Sincerely

Theresa Rogers

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