The future of food looks a lot like advanced animal product substitutes; we've already gone beyond tofurkey to plant-based burgers that "bleed." Down in Santiago, Chile, a five-person startup is using machine learning to figure out how to create its own versions of vegetarian substitutes for animal products. Called the Not Company (or NotCo), the one-year-old company is rolling out its first products -- NotMilk, NotMayo. "All I can tell you is that there are some star ingredients ranging from legumes to flowers," NotCo cofounder Matias Muchnick tells Tech Insider. Machine learning, the programming technique where algorithms learn from data sets, has become the hot new thing in Silicon Valley.
The plant-based food industry is booming, but there is still some disconnect in how plant-based options look and taste compared to their animal-made counterparts. Experts in the food industry believe artificial intelligence (AI) is that missing ingredient. Food-tech company NotCo recently released its plant-based milk, called NotMilk, that looks and tastes like dairy milk, to Whole Foods stores nationwide. The company has mastered the art of creating plant-based foods that taste, feel, and look just like their animal-based counterparts using AI. "To me, you have more than 400,000 species of plants in this world that you can explore, and we have no idea what they can do," NotCo founder and CEO Matias Muchnick told Lifewire in a phone interview.
Chilean food-tech start-up NotCo uses artificial intelligence (AI) to identify the optimum combinations of plant proteins when creating vegan alternatives to animal-based food products. The company, set up in 2015, has attracted investment from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos and Future Positive, a US investment fund founded by Biz Stone, the co-founder of Twitter. NotCo's machine learning algorithm compares the molecular structure of dairy or meat products to plant sources, searching for proteins with similar molecular components. NotCo has a database containing over 400,000 different plants, including macronutrient breakdown and chemical composition. These factors are used to predict novel food combinations with the target flavour, texture, and functionality.
The San Francisco–based accelerator IndieBio's Demo Day is delightfully awkward. Finally, with the room settled and the house lights turned down, the CEO of each of the 12 science-focused startups in the program steps to the stage, stumbles through a breathtakingly dense five-minute pitch of mind-bending products like 3-D-printed kidneys, lab-grown fish, and pheromone-based insecticide, and then asks for funding. The halting presentations are symptomatic of the program at IndieBio, which strives to turn scientists with big ideas into successful CEOs within four months. So this September, at IndieBio's Demo Day (the three-year-old accelerator's fifth fundraising event), it was staggering when Matías Muchnick, in a Tasmanian Devil–adorned Hawaiian shirt, gave a clear, concise, funny presentation about the way his company, NotCo, would change the food industry.
SANTIAGO (Reuters) – A Chilean startup that has built artificial intelligence software to help recreate animal-based foods using plants is looking toward U.S. multinationals after signing deals at home to sell its products, the company's founders said. NotCo, founded around a year ago by three Chileans, has already persuaded Cencosud's Jumbo supermarkets to stock its'Not Mayo' across Chile, and has signed a deal to supply a national food manufacturer with one of its products, said Chief Executive Matias Muchnick. The company has also spoken to international companies including Hershey, Coca-Cola and Mars about creating new versions of chocolate and soda. "We want to promote these products as mainstream. It will only have an impact if meat-eaters who don't care about sustainability buy them," said Muchnick, adding that they can be retailed at the same price as the non-vegan version.