ProfilePrint’s founder Alan Lai was travelling across Uganda in a Jeep in 2012 when he came across chia seed farmers selling their produce. One kilogram cost close to half a pound sterling, or roughly 67 cents. At that moment, he recalled seeing the same seeds being sold at a grocery store in London, where 250 grams went for nearly GBP 6, or USD 8.
“They were the same item, yet the seeds were sold at a way higher price in another market,” says Lai. “But can we be sure that what was being sold in London is actually of the same quality as what I encountered on the Ugandan plantation?” This experience, he claims, became a source of inspiration to establish ProfilePrint five years later.
Founded in 2017, ProfilePrint is on a mission to optimize an inefficient global food supply chain. The startup is the world’s first company to have successfully developed and patented an AI food “fingerprint” technology, where digital markers of each ingredient are created by analyzing ingredients down to a molecular level. Buyers and sellers are both then able to access the quality reports generated by this analysis. This documentation gives buyers a way to ascertain the quality of the ingredients and be sure that the goods match their demands.
This advanced way of analyzing ingredients for quality checks makes food grading more efficient, improving upon a conventional process that involves manual inspection, assessment, and sorting based on factors such as quality, freshness, and market value.
For the workers involved, this is often a physically and mentally tedious process that may lead to ingredients being graded inconsistently. From the perspective of companies and clients looking to procure ingredients quickly and at the lowest possible cost, the time taken for workers to assess and match clients with their ideal ingredients can be lengthy and expensive.
As a solution to these inefficiencies, Singapore-based ProfilePrint combined the analysis of metabolites (intermediate products of metabolic reactions) in biological samples, artificial intelligence, and sensor technology to develop a portable analyzer and platform where users can easily view the quality profiles of food ingredients. The profiles include information such as flavor, density, moisture, and possible defects.
ProfilePrint said its solution can replace the internal quality checks that some businesses implement, giving them a way to determine the quality of ingredients without having to test samples themselves. Additionally, product profiles can be matched with each customer’s demand, opening up new sourcing opportunities.
This technology can also help companies to develop new products. The Blend Recommendation module in ProfilePrint’s platform can mix ingredients to match the target flavor profile defined by a user.
So far, the company has commercialized its solution to “fingerprint” coffee beans, cocoa beans, and tea leaves. ProfilePrint is now expanding its list of accepted ingredients. Several pilot programs in collaboration with existing clients are in place to develop tests for ingredients like spices, grains, and alternative proteins.
Access to ProfilePrint’s patented technology is based on a subscription model, and the company said clients can expect to see a 30%–60% decrease in operational costs, depending on the existing grading methods that are used.
ProfilePrint was among the ten finalists of the Alibaba Cloud x KrAsia Global Startup Accelerator Singapore-Thailand Demo Day that was held on January 11.