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Flavor Leadership January 12, 2021

5 Ways McCormick is Reinventing the Art and Science of Flavor

McCormick Artificial Intelligence AI IBM innovation flavor creation technology


You might think of McCormick & Company primarily as a spice company. But in reality—we’re so much more. Spices are just one of the key ingredients to our success.

For over 130 years, we’ve met the increasing demand for flavor around the world. And thanks to our “Driven to Innovate” principle, we’re continuously reinventing our business and leading the pursuit of what’s next in great-tasting, healthy food choices.

Want to see how we’re creating, tasting and flavoring the meals of tomorrow? Here’s an inside look at the innovative forces behind your favorite flavors:

1. Artificial Intelligence: McCormick partnered with IBM Research to pioneer the application of artificial intelligence (AI) for flavor and food product development. We launched our first AI-enabled product platform, “ONE,” in 2019, with a set of one dish recipe mix flavors including Tuscan Chicken, Bourbon Pork Tenderloin and New Orleans Sausage; all of which were developed to deliver family favorite flavors with the ability to season a variety of food items such as proteins and vegetables.

Using AI technologies will continue to increase our rate of innovation beyond what it is today, helping the company meet the growing demand for both a wider variety of flavors and for more intense flavors from consumers and industry partners alike. Product developers across McCormick’s global workforce are now able to explore flavor territories more quickly and efficiently, using AI to learn and predict new flavor combinations from hundreds of millions of data points across the areas of sensory science, consumer preference and flavor palettes.

2. Flavor Creation: McCormick Flavor Solutions makes it easy to create exclusive flavors that intersect with an unforgettable consumer eating experience. Enabled by leading natural science and technology programs, our broad portfolio of patented technology delivers flavors that not only taste good, but, are better for you.

For example:

When consumers demand low sodium, low calorie and no added sugar, McCormick’s FlavorReal™ suite of natural taste solutions allows our partners to deliver delicious flavors with clean label in mind, all thanks to natural flavors, extracts, herbs, spices and technologies.  

How can sugar free still taste so sweet? Our proprietary modulation technology FlavorFull™ means “good-for-you” can taste great. By leveraging this advanced flavor technology, our customers can successfully meet “low” and “no” challenges without sacrificing taste.

And while delivering a superior flavor experience is what makes good brands great, making sure you can preserve flavor integrity through the rigors of manufacturing is essential. Our differentiated Flavor Cell® encapsulation technology delivers flavor where, when and how it’s needed.

Our customizable FlavorSpice™ increases concentration and solubility, providing flexible, natural replacements for ground herbs and spices, so our partners can deliver an amazing eating experience to consumers.

3. Top-Notch Culinary Experts. We employ a variety of food and flavor experts to help us develop insights and share our innovations: trend-trackers, research chefs, flavor technologists, sensory scientists, food engineers and natural product chemists. These experts are leaders in their fields and are the sources that home cooks, professional chefs, and food brands turn to for flavor and culinary inspiration. These sharp minds are crucial to deep consumer and category knowledge of the global food market.

Using our proprietary co-creation process, Create IT®, our team develops flavors that are unique to customers’ products and brands, working with them through every stage of their product life cycle, from conception to formulization to commercialization. We co-create custom flavors for 10 of the top 10 food and beverage companies, and all top 10 food service restaurant chains worldwide. We study every discipline, from R&D to sales, to gain a deep understanding of the brand, consumers and product.

4. Scientific Research. Our work inspires great-tasting, healthy food choices—and we’ve got the data to prove it. The McCormick Science Institute (MSI) is an independent research-driven organization whose mission is to support scientific studies at leading universities and institutions to disseminate information on the health benefits of culinary herbs and spices.

Take sodium, for example. On average, Americans consume 3,440 mg of sodium a day, which is nearly 50 percent higher than the Dietary Guidelines recommended daily intake of less than 2,300 mg. University research supported by the MSI revealed when adults were shown how to flavor their food with spices and herbs instead of salt, they were able to reduce sodium intake by almost 1,000 mg per day. 

5. Flavor Forecast: At McCormick, we love to identify emerging culinary trends. Since 2000, our signature Flavor Forecast has pinpointed top trends and flavors—from those on the verge of widespread appeal to subtle undercurrents just beginning to materialize (we were talking about pumpkin spice way before it was in your latte).

Chefs, expert culinary professionals, sensory scientists, dietitians, trend trackers, marketing experts and food technologists from across the globe are sent on a year-long quest for the future of flavor. The result? A clear, compelling look at what’s next that sparks flavor innovation and discovery for years to come. These reports give our partners—from food manufacturers to food service companies—opportunities to be the first to market with innovative flavors.

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