Using ChatGPT in food innovation

ChatGPT has game-changed my workflows across the aspects of the food business I’m involved with – innovation, branding, and web/digital.

With the frenzy around GPT-4, I’ve written two blog posts about how food businesses can use the app. The topic of this post, and the one following, is food or drink innovation.

In this post, I’ve introduced ChatGPT, what it is, and how to use it. It sets the scene for the follow-on post, which explores a series of ChatGPT prompts that food innovators and developers could use in their workflows*.

The front end of innovation

At the front end of food or drink innovation, we ideate and conceptualise products or recipes that our consumers will love if everything goes as planned.

In practical sessions, we use the tools of the trade – knives, pots and pans, utensils, machinery, etc. And, to increase our chances in the competitive marketplace, we guide the tools with our knowledge, experience, skills, and a generous drizzle of human ingenuity.

As we start working on the brief, we often seek ideas and inspiration. Since the internet changed the world 25 years ago, we've turned to search engines, social media, books, and other published works for this.

And now there's a new kid on the block. It's a new tool, a fount of pretty-much all digitised knowledge; it can hold human-like conversations, and perhaps most importantly, it offers us different ways of looking at things.

This new kid is the AI app ChatGPT. It's stirring things up in many industries and is likely to be another game-changer in the food world, and at the front end of innovation.

What is ChatGPT?

In a nutshell, ChatGPT is a conversational chatbot from OpenAI. The app is built on a large language model (LLM). LLMs generate responses from user prompts by predicting the next word in a series consecutively, using the prompt and its generated words as context.

LLMs are trained on vast public and licensed sets of text and, in OpenAI’s case, utilise a Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) architecture, which can generate text in a novel human-like way.

During the training, the models improve at making accurate predictions, essentially learning patterns in the language, such as how words and phrases are arranged, which words follow others, the context in which words are used, and so on.

OpenAI's GPT is in its current version, GPT-4, released in March 2023. Each version becomes significantly more capable due to its increased number of parameters (learned components) and improved training.

This foundational AI technology underpins a burgeoning range of applications; one such app is ChatGPT.

How do I use ChatGPT?

When you log in to ChatGPT, you interact with it like a human by chatting around topics and questions.

One way to look at this is to consider the auto-complete suggestions in search engines or writing apps. In ChatGPT, you start, it responds, you continue, and it continues towards the outcome.

Your inputs into ChatGPT are sets of words known as prompts. The format and content of prompts are important, so I asked ChatGPT itself for five tips for writing a great ChatGPT prompt. Here's what it had to say:

➡️ Be specific: the more precise and detailed your prompt, the more likely ChatGPT is to generate a useful response.

➡️ Set the context: if your question involves a certain context, include it in the prompt.

➡️ Use instructional language: if you have a specific format in mind for the answer, specify that in the prompt.

➡️ Avoid ambiguity: the clearer your question, the better the answer will likely be.

➡️ Experiment and iterate: if you're not getting the response you want, try rephrasing your prompt, adding more detail, or specifying the format you want the answer in.

This last tip is important; chatting with GPT is a journey, not a one-prompt-stand. You may have to coax the conversation towards your goal, but the flavours will evolve as you do.

And, as you have the conversation, it’s essential to remember that ChatGPT may occasionally give false or confused feedback. GPT-4 has limited knowledge after most of its training data was collected in September 2021. As you chat, GPT may remind you of this, and the bottom of its window includes the disclaimer: ChatGPT may produce inaccurate information about people, places, or facts.

This means ChatGPT’s prompt responses are not definitive or for use verbatim. So, at this point in history, we humans still have value, and Google remains useful (and is working rapidly on responding to OpenAI's disruptive technology).

How does ChatGPT add value at the front end of food innovation?

ChatGPT can be of value to food businesses across innovation, branding, web, and digital.

At the front end of food and drink innovation, here are six scenarios that innovators face daily where ChatGPT can add value.

➡️ You want insights and ideas associated with an aspect of food itself.

➡️ You want market insights – industry, technology, consumers, influencers, trends, online search data, and futurology.

➡️ You want to analyse a category and competitive products to see if gaps exist for new products.

➡️ You are working on your products to optimise their appeal and audience fit.

➡️ You're ideating new and extension products for portfolio value growth.

➡️ You want to research, ideate, and produce recipes and menus for your products or business.

OK, so that’s a list of scenarios. Taking this a step further, I imagined examples of the needs 🤔 a food developer may have in each scenario. I then devised example ChatGPT 🗣️ prompts for each need.

The full list of scenarios, needs, and example prompts is in my follow-on blog post here.


ChatGPT has game-changed my workflows across the aspects of the food business I’m involved with – innovation, branding, and web/digital.

After running the prompts in the follow-on post, I found ChatGPT to be brilliant for gaining a focused understanding of a topic, adding ideas and possibilities, and giving inspiration. And it’s also of great value to interact with ideas that are different from my own.

Would I say it will speed up innovation processes? Yes, and possibly. ChatGPT can add value in a matter of seconds to a strategic and creative process that humans manage. And knows what will come along to disrupt food innovation further!

With the world of food changing so rapidly, ChatGPT is a valuable tool in the food innovator's tool kit. I’m super-excited to integrate it into my workflows and see how the technology evolves to enable us to make better food and drink products and better businesses.

Of course, I've run all these prompts in ChatGPT; if you want to see the chat transcripts, just drop me a message here

The follow-on post to this one can be read here.

Post production

This post was produced as follows:

➡️ Research using ChatGPT-4.

➡️ Drafting by a human, me, using Google Docs assisted by an AI-enabled writing app.

➡️ Additional topic research by a human, using ChatGPT and Google search.

➡️ Editing by a human.

➡️ Content refinement by ChatGPT-4.

➡️ Final edit by a human.

➡️ Image creation by AI with Midjourney – a whole other story!

➡️ Text and image exports/imports into Webflow by a human, me.


OpenAI and ChatGPT have opened a can of legal worms, particularly in Copyright and Data Protection. Before you use these tools, please ensure you have assessed your use case with a legal professional.

How can I help you? Arrange a call…

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