07.08.2023

Artificial Intelligence in Supplement Formulations: A New Era or a Passing Fad?

Since the inception of OpenAI’s ground-breaking ChatGPT, artificial intelligence (AI) has shifted from an intriguing concept to a mainstream application. Like the dot com bubble of 1999, 2023 is witnessing an “AI bubble” as businesses rush to integrate AI capabilities into their current systems. But is AI here to stay? And more specifically, what is its viability within the supplement industry, particularly in creating supplement formulations?

Before we delve into that, it’s essential to understand the difference between AI and large language models (LLMs), and why this distinction matters.

 

AI vs. LLM: What You Need to Know

Artificial Intelligence, in general, represents computer systems that can mimic human intelligence, making decisions, learning from mistakes, and improving over time. On the other hand, Large Language Models (LLMs) such as ChatGPT are subcategories of AI that leverage machine learning algorithms to understand and generate human-like text.

However, it’s crucial to realise that popular LLMs such as ChatGPT have learnt predominantly from the internet, and their knowledge is only as good as the data they’ve been trained on. The internet, while expansive, doesn’t contain all the expertise and knowledge required to create supplement formulations.

For instance, information about specific formulation techniques, trade secrets, and ingredient-sourcing strategies may not be readily available online. Hence, this is where the limitations of LLMs and even AI become apparent, especially in the context of supplement formulation.

The Viability of AI in Supplement Formulation

While AI shows immense potential in various industries, supplement formulation presents unique challenges. For one, supplement formulation requires a deep understanding of manufacturing processes, something AI isn’t inherently equipped to know. AI may be able to suggest a theoretical formulation, but it takes a human expert to evaluate if such a formulation can be practically manufactured, taking into consideration aspects such as ingredient solubility, stability, and interaction.

Cost is another key factor in supplement formulation. It’s not just about creating an effective blend of ingredients, but doing so within a budget. AI and LLMs lack the ability to form relationships with suppliers or to track the ever-changing costs of hundreds of different ingredients. Ingredient suppliers do not actively showcase their prices on their website as many of the prices are solely dependent on the size of the order. This makes it challenging for AI to create cost-effective formulations.

Taste and texture are critical components of a successful supplement. AI and LLMs, while adept at data analysis and prediction, struggle to understand these subjective aspects. An expert will know what combinations work well together, disqualify non-viable combinations, and importantly, sample the product to ensure it meets consumer expectations.

Another significant challenge with LLMs is the tendency to generate “hallucinations,” or generate information when they lack sufficient data, which can lead to incorrect or unrealistic supplement formulations. True AI platforms can be trained to overcome some of these issues, but this process requires substantial investment and continuous monitoring by AI engineers.

The Extended Future of AI in Supplement Formulation

Despite the exciting possibilities offered by AI, it’s important to stress that AI is not set to replace human experts. AI lacks the ability to taste or feel a product, the practical understanding of manufacturing constraints, or the instinctive understanding of what will appeal to consumers. Moreover, ethical and safety considerations in supplement formulation require human oversight.

Instead, AI should be viewed as a powerful tool that can enhance the capabilities of human experts. By handling data-heavy tasks, AI can free up time for experts to focus on areas where human judgement and experience shine. This includes refining formulations, conducting essential tasting and texture tests, and making final decisions about what will work best in the market.

The future of AI in supplement formulation is one of partnership between human and machine. While AI can increase efficiency and spark innovation, it is the human touch that will ultimately bring successful, safe, and effective supplements to market. By embracing this hybrid approach, the supplement industry can harness the best of both worlds, driving growth and success in the years to come.

The rise of AI in supplement formulation is certainly exciting, offering a range of possibilities for efficiency and innovation. However, it’s clear that it is not about replacing the human touch, but rather enhancing it. Like most technologies, AI is a tool. In the hands of skilled professionals, it can be used to augment human capabilities and push the boundaries of what’s possible in supplement formulation. As we navigate the AI bubble of 2023, one thing is clear – AI may change how we operate, but it cannot replace the insights, instincts, and expertise that humans bring to the table. At least, not yet.

At Supplement Factory, we understand the value of a unique product. That’s why we offer bespoke supplement formulation services. What’s more, once we’ve developed your custom formulation, it’s yours to keep. Even if you cannot meet our minimum order quantities (MOQs), you retain full rights to your formula, and you’re free to have your supplement manufactured elsewhere. Contact us to get your supplement journey started.

Supplement Factory

Written by Supplement Factory

Our team of industry experts not only work towards producing the highest standards of sports and health nutrition products, but also lend their knowledge towards educating the industry on the latest advances in products, ingredients and formulations.

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