Recently, it was announced that a Hungarian-based energy drink manufacturer has developed a new drink using artificial intelligence. It comes as no surprise that producers of soft drinks would use AI for developing and marketing their products. However, in view of the harmful effects of some of these, the question arises whether AI should be used to promote a healthy product instead?
Hell Energy’s new product was developed entirely by artificial intelligence. AI processed a huge amount of information to create the recipe that it thought was best, and not just based on what people expect from an energy drink, with the primary aim of creating a better and tastier drink, Világgazdaság wrote, citing a company statement.
The brand wrote in their press statement that
AI also enriched its energy drink with vitamins, amino acids, and herbs, among other things, and ensured compliance with food legislation, such as EFSA (European Food Safety Authority) recommendations and the RDA (recommended daily allowance).”
The food and beverage industry has a lot of potential using AI, such as when it comes to sustainability, enhancing food safety, sales cycle, customers, or supply chain improvement. However, it is a totally different area when companies use AI to create their products, be it drinks or food.
Hell Energy is not the first company to experiment with AI; Burger King has also used artificial intelligence, but so far, only in creating advertising campaigns. Burger King Germany used Midjourney, an AI tool, to generate its initial creative product ideas. The results were unusual combinations of flavors, such as the Onion Ring Donut or the Chili Cheese Shake. However, as the company clearly pointed out in their advertisement, these flavors do not actually exist – at least not yet.
AI’s effects can go both ways, positive or negative, and the lines could be thin and blurred between the two sides.
However, the question arises: if we are going to use AI, why not use it to promote healthy products and healthy lifestyles?
As citizens we are of course proud of the successes of Hungarian companies, with one of the most prominent being Hell Energy-after all, they signed a deal with Bruce Willis to promote their product. We also know that there is a big demand for energy drinks, and not to take advantage of it would not make business sense, but it is also important to draw attention to the harmful effects of some of the products in question.
Numerous health authorities around the world have already raised alarms over the effects of energy drinks on the human body. In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) points out that an energy drink is a beverage that typically contains large amounts of caffeine, added sugars, other additives, and legal stimulants such as guarana, taurine, and L-carnitine. These legal stimulants can increase alertness, attention, and energy, as well as increase blood pressure, heart rate, and breathing.
The CDC highlights that
some of the dangers of energy drinks include dehydration, heart complications (such as irregular heartbeat or heart failure), anxiety, and insomnia.
High levels of energy drink consumption are particularly prevalent among young people, so teachers, other school staff, and parents can play a major role in raising awareness of the harmful effects.
In Hungary, the government has also made raising awareness to the dangers of energy drink consumption a priority, especially among young people.
As Bence Rétvári pointed out, “it is obvious that there is a fashion for consuming energy drinks,” with some people drinking them just as soft drinks, and some with alcohol. The State Secretary recalled the results of a 2018 survey, saying that 10.5 percent of school-age children have consumed an energy drink, and 18.5 percent drink it on a weekly basis. The consumption of these products increases from grade 9, which is dangerous, because a daily intake of 400 milligrams of caffeine is already harmful to health. The government had taken various measures to combat the over-consumption of energy drinks, such as banning the sale of this type of product in school canteens.
About 10 percent of secondary and upper secondary school students consume energy drinks on a daily basis in Hungary.
The main problem with these amounts is that young people can easily become addicted, which in the long term can have serious consequences, causing cardiovascular diseases and nervous system problems. In recent years, there have been hundreds of cases of young people requiring medical attention for energy drink overconsumption.
Several Hungarian doctors have drawn attention to the harmful effects of energy drinks among those under 18. The youth are highly sensitive to energy drinks and caffeine, potentially leading to problems such as heart rhythm disturbances and blood pressure problems.
The opinion of pediatricians is that the consumption of energy drinks should be banned for the under-18s, because energy drink consumption is becoming increasingly fashionable, even among primary school children, and it is almost an epidemic among 14-18 year olds,”
said pediatrician Tamás Bense, in an interview with Hungarian news site Hirado.hu.
Ultimately, it was a noteworthy marketing idea for the Hungarian energy drink brand to use AI to promote its product from a strictly market point of view. However, it seems that companies producing healthy products are somewhat lagging behind in using AI for their offerings. However, catching up with their rivals would require significant financial resources. Major energy soft drink or junk food brands make massive profits from their lifestyle products, and have cash to burn for inventive marketing campaigns, such as AI-developed products. As AI is all the rage, tobacco companies or electric smoking device manufacturers, such as the popular Elf Bar, are expected to catch up. Grants for AI projects popularizing healthy products and lifestyle should go a long way, and could make a difference, especially among young people.
PepsiCo, the multinational maker of name-brand soda, chips, and sports drinks, is also among those regularly experimenting with AI, with one result actually about promoting healthier foods. At the University of Pacific, there is an AI-powered wheeled robot called Snackbot, delivering healthier PepsiCo products such as healthy potato chips or sparkling water. At the same time however, Pepsi also announced in 2020, that it would create an artificial intelligence system to help ensure its Cheetos cheese-puff snacks all have the same texture, crunch, and shape.
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