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Life at McCormick July 07, 2021

How McCormick’s Global Creative Intelligence Director Creates New Flavors and Supports Sustainability

Jim Martin, Global Creative Intelligence Director at McCormick & Company


Jim Martin is committed to McCormick’s Purpose-led Performance (PLP) in his efforts to help people, support communities, and make an impact on our planet. In his role, Jim, Global Creative Intelligence Director, is the business lead for SAGE, the Research & Development program that uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) for product development. McCormick is the first food and flavor company to use AI for product development. It allows us to learn and predict new flavor combinations from hundreds of millions of data points across the areas of sensory science, consumer, and flavor palettes. Using AI sets McCormick apart in its ability to develop more creative, better tasting products and new flavor experiences across both its Consumer and Flavor Solutions businesses. Our use of artificial intelligence highlights our commitment to insight-driven innovation and the application of the most forward-looking technologies to continually enhance our products and bring new flavors to market.

Jim has used AI to help McCormick successfully launch new products and expand our portfolio of flavor profiles. He manages the data driven machine learning system that helps McCormick developers iterate new product designs by suggesting alternative formulations for flavor experiences under development. Using AI, Jim creates new flavors that consumers want and develops better products faster. Because Jim has always been process-oriented, he naturally looks for ways to do things better, which has served him well in product development. Tasked with helping scientists make smarter, healthier decisions, he looks for new ways to put resources at their fingertips so they can move quickly from the data phase to the knowledge phase.

In his 21-year career at McCormick, Jim has successfully encouraged other employees to volunteer with the Gunpowder Valley Conservancy (GVC) and help preserve the natural beauty of the Baltimore area he values so much. He is proud that McCormick continues to show its commitment to environmental stewardship by sponsoring annual events and promoting sustainability. Jim served as Chair of the Sustainability Committee at McCormick’s Technical Innovation Center (TIC),  the first organized group at McCormick to push for making a difference in the environment while at work. He and the team initiated the first single stream recycling in Maryland at the TIC facility. “We took it upon ourselves to make people smarter about sustainability at work so they can be smarter about it at home. We took a grassroots approach to our efforts,” he said.

Growing up in south Wisconsin, Jim was accustomed to flat landscapes. “I could drive for eight hours and never see an ocean or a mountain – and still be in Wisconsin,” he jokes. So, when he moved to Baltimore County, Maryland in 2004, he fell in love with the beauty and diversity of the area. “Suddenly, I could see mountains, shorelines, and forests during a single drive – in under eight hours,” he said. Raised in a rural area, Jim was used to fresh vegetables and beef, but he soon developed a love of fresh seafood and blue crabs in his new home state of Maryland. A true outdoorsman, he appreciates the natural splendor of the flora, fauna, lakes, and wildlife of the land. So, when a friend invited him to a rain barrel workshop at the GVC in 2010, he gladly accepted. Admitting that he was unsure at the time what the barrel workshop would entail, Jim reveals today that it was both educational and fun. He not only learned how to collect water as it comes off a roof, and store it for future use, but also how doing this benefits the ecology and allows the ground time to absorb the water so there is not as much runoff. 

Jim soon began volunteering in GVC activities like tree planting, tree maintenance, stream clean-ups, and rain garden workshops. He saw first-hand how the GVC teaches people how to best care for and preserve their property. For example, GVC members meet with businesses, neighborhood associations, schools, and churches to share their expertise on ways to preserve their land. They answer questions, provide advice, and work with communities to help them better manage their properties and make a positive impact on the environment. And they often partner with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and other local government agencies for the same purpose. 

Jim quickly noticed that the GVC’s goals closely align with McCormick’s Purpose-led Performance goals. Like the GVC, McCormick strives to make a positive impact on the planet by looking at gaps and opportunities across operations to see where we can make improvements. Our primary environmental focus areas include solid waste recycling, and reducing our water use, and greenhouse gas emissions across  our global operations. These goals can also apply to residential homes and communities.

Jim was delighted to discover that the plastic containers he re-purposed into rain barrels at his first workshop, were donated by McCormick, and have been since 2008. The GVC and McCormick are both committed to the use of plastics that can be recycled, reused, or repurposed. In fact, McCormick is a signatory to the Ellen MacArthur Foundation’s New Plastics Economy Global Commitment, where we have pledged to eliminate single-use plastics in our supply chain.

Inspired by the workshop experience, Jim inquired how he could get involved in preserving the natural landscape he cherished so much. He discovered that GVC is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to educate and mobilize people and resources to preserve and restore the lands and waterways of the Gunpowder watershed. The Gunpowder watershed is the 500 square mile area that supplies most of the Baltimore area’s drinking water and ranges from York County, Pennsylvania, through Baltimore, Carroll, and Harford Counties, Maryland, to the shores of the Chesapeake Bay. Motivated by the impact the GVC and its volunteers have on the environment, Jim joined the Board in 2014 and served as Board President from 2017-2021. He and his team recently secured a $250,000 commitment from the National Fish & Wildlife Foundation, and two years of funding for the Clear Creeks Project, a citizen-based initiative to restore the water quality in Baltimore County. They also preserved 240 additional acres of prime natural area with increased access to the Gunpowder River. “I am proud to lead an organization that preserves land and promotes sustainability. Teaching communities to be more ecological gives them a healthy view of nature, the world, and the people around them. It changes their perspectives and behaviors, influences the decisions they make, and helps create positive change for the future,” Jim shared.

Jim’s commitment to sustainability is echoed in McCormick’s PLP work to ensure natural resources support long-term prosperity and provide a brighter, more flavorful future for communities.

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