Published 1 year ago.
About a 4 minute read.
Image: Journey Foods
Journey Foods is on a mission to transform our food system, one product at a time. Its database of over 17B data points on millions of food products and ingredients is helping companies optimize the complete lifecycle of products, from ideation to market.
What is perhaps most interesting about the way entrepreneur Riana
Lynn is aiming to tackle the myriad
problems within the food industry is her drive to solve it in tandem with
technology and working within what already exists.
“It’s really unfortunate how much the juggernauts (of food) control the industry
and how much agriculture has controlled food and taste over the last 150 years,”
she recently told Sustainable Brands™.
The food technology innovator, speaker and growth designer founded Journey
Foods — a portfolio intelligence and
lifecycle-management software for food development and innovation — in 2019 with
a goal of transforming food through a multi-pronged approach, including AI and
logistics. The Austin-based startup helps food companies optimize the
complete lifecycle of a product from ideation to the marketplace. It includes
features that help companies of all sizes understand everything from the
environmental impact of ingredients to the cost inefficiencies and waste in
their production process, and opportunities to improve on all.
Lynn notes direct links between the ways we now grow, produce and consume food —
particularly, the many new types of foods we weren’t eating 100 years ago — and
major drivers of climate change, diabetes and mental health issues (among other
problems). She says those factors, rather than addressing the ongoing issues
with global supply
(a secondary benefit of the platform), were the impetus for creating an
actionable database for helping the biggest names in food make impactful
decisions about food products.
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“The focus on actionability was around the fact that you won’t get a $3
trillion industry to turn over if you don't make it easy,” she says. “The focus
is on the ‘what’ and ‘how’ of these products. Supply chain and cost is the next
With big data powering so many other aspects of modern life, it makes sense that
there’s a major opportunity in food, ripe for the picking. Lynn says that since
its launch, Journey Foods has scanned more than two million food products,
recipes and ingredients — totaling more than 17 billion data points. For
companies using the platform, each data point informs a path to streamlining
The platform combines AI, machine learning and its ever-growing data pool to not
only solve food science and supply chain inefficiencies, but also inform new
ways for food companies to make their products more cost-efficient and
planet-positive from start to finish — often saving the customer many months and
trials in the process.
For example, the company helped
Unilever reduce costs 9 percent
on a less impactful, more health-focused product and deliver the improved
product in 47 percent less time than the operating standard market launch. Other
An international chocolate company wanted to improve on the unnatural
additives and oils in its products. The company sought three alternative
ingredients with the same cost margin or lower; Journey used its platform to
locate and source pilot ingredients that fit the bill in terms of cost and
A leading cookie company looked to launch a national line of gluten-free
cookies with a low-water-use flour alternative. After first filtering by
taste and texture parameters, Journey then recommended the best available,
A major Japanese company with global product lines planned to launch new
coffee lines with new packaging, and lower water and sugar in their products
while meeting regulatory markers. Journey helped them identify updated
nutrition formulations by country.
A startup looking to make a plant-based coffee creamer used Journey’s data
to match ingredients based on glycemic index and cost.
Lynn’s team then transforms all of this data into viable use cases for the
biggest names in food, while integrating it into existing technology platforms
to help inform new product developments and improvements.
Journey Foods’ JourneyLabs initiative is
giving students across the country opportunities to not only work with food data
but find their niche within the field — which ideally will lead to the necessary
jobs of tomorrow.
“The underlying skillset (needed) across the board is coding data and analysis,”
Lynn says. “The natural demands of foods, consumer behavioral changes and data
have to be a core part of how we train future food workers. We’re going to have
to feed eight billion people very soon and that’s very confusing.”
The initiative connects students at a range of universities — including
historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs), and legacy schools such as
Columbia University and Cornell — with specific, data-driven
opportunities to help define the future of food.
Lynn notes that building a diverse and driven
is key to the success and sustainability of the next frontier of food; and
programs such as JourneyLabs put those opportunities front and center. For
example, the partnership with Columbia will lead to the production of new
JourneyLabs will also offer early-stage companies and founders access to
critical data tools to help them grow.
Published Feb 1, 2022 1pm EST / 10am PST / 6pm GMT / 7pm CET
Geoff is a freelance journalist and copywriter focused on making the world a better place through compelling copy. He covers everything from apparel to travel while helping brands worldwide craft their messaging. In addition to Sustainable Brands, he's currently a contributor at Penta, AskMen.com, Field Mag and many others. You can check out more of his work at geoffnudelman.com.