The 21st century has witnessed a rapid increase in technological advancement in various industry. Foodtech startups are being born each day to improve the journey from the farm to the grocery to the kitchen.
At the tap of your smartphone screen or click of your mouse, you can order a scrumptious dessert or delicious meal at your doorstep within few minutes. The ease has been brought about by the birth of startups and applications.
So with your smartphone equipped with delivery personnel and apps powered by routing algorithms from unconventional startups and investors taking a plunge in the food sector, you can’t help but look at food like never before.
Still, technology can help the growing number of health-conscious population to know the origin of food there are served or delivered by a certain restaurant.
The article will review how foodtech startups are digitizing and automating the industry.
How the Technology has Changed Customers
Technology in the food industry has changed how people view food, digitalized delivery platforms and increased more funding to foodtech companies.
Still, customers have changed and have become time conscious. They can now time and track their orders at the comfort of their homes or offices. The advent of startups and technology helps them demand good food experiences and create user-generated content that brands can use on their social media platforms like Snapchat and Instagram.
This growth is fueled by urban-dwelling working professionals, and foodtech companies are joining the race for market share as they try to meet their demand. As a result, the startup ecosystem has segments such as personal chefs, on-demand meals, grocery delivery, and box delivery, among others.
Thus with customers’ change in their preferences, the foodservice industry has recorded unprecedented growth in revenues and size. At the same time, the foodtech companies use technology to give them that food experience they desire and deceive. This is how they are doing it:
Foodtech startups have shifted focus from core food delivery to the delivery of lip-smacking food at slashed prices. These are low-budget restaurants or establishments that don’t have seating space for customers but cooks and delivers food to their doorstep. Customers for off-premises dining must order online via the business website or delivery apps such as DoorDash, Deliveroo, Grubhub and UberEats.
Therefore, ghost restaurants receive orders online because they don’t have storefronts. Many giant food-tech firms are expanding into the cloud kitchen niche because it allows them to lower operational costs such as labor and rent, expand their customer base as well as diversify.
So, since cloud kitchen is delivery-only, the startup does not need to create an experiential dine-in experience, neither does it need to worry about large capital investments, high rental costs, guest facilities, restaurant interiors or front of house staff. The business only needs kitchen staff.
Further investing heavily in technology help cloud kitchen in customer acquisition on digital platforms, have a well-equipped kitchen infrastructure and well-trained workforces such as delivery drivers and chefs.
Machines keep your food fresh and improve productivity, thus ensuring affordability and quality. There are more than 30,000 robots in the global food industry. These robotic machines are mostly used to perform more dangerous jobs, thus eliminating safety issues, improving cleanliness, and saving space and time in the food industry.
Food manufacturing robots are used in dispensing, cutting, feed placement, packing, and casing of food. They can also be used for order picking when customers or employees place orders online as well as automatically filling certain orders.
Food robots are more efficient than humans when it comes to packing food items that require high levels of repetition, consistency, and speed. Still, vision system robots help with sorting things based on size, shape and color.
The chicken leg deboning is used to break down chicken legs into separate parts. Cake decorating robots helps in the mass production of cakes with similar dimensions and decorations. A US-based startup, Zume, designed a robot that assists in making pizza by performing low-level tasks such as dough mixing or in-oven rotation.
The 3-D printing technology has opened the door for innovation in the food industry. It’s used in producing distinctive edibles ranging from pizza to drinks. For instance, an advanced 3D print technology can allow the pre-load of recipes that can be customized in color, shape, nutrition and flavor. So instead of using ink, the 3D printer uses melted plastic that solidifies quickly.
Further, the advanced 3D printer can use a binding technique with raw ingredients and edible cement. So many foodtech companies are using this printing technology to design new shapes as well as add a visual appeal to the food they deliver to customers hence increased sales.
More so, culinary art created by industry professionals can be an expensive affair; however, 3D print technology cuts the costs drastically. Also, with the growing popularity of veganism and gluten-free food, the technology helps you combine different ingredients choices, thus meet your customers’ needs.
Another factor that foodtech startups are trying to minimize is food wastage and increasing food sustainability, which they can now achieve via 3D food printers.
Even prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, people were keen on the foods they consume. Thus people want to know the origin of the ingredients used to make their meals. They want to know whether the sources are healthy, safe and environmentally responsible.
Interestingly, foodtech companies are making this possible through blockchain technology, for it gives precisely the kind of controls, efficiency, visibility and collaboration that the populations want.
Through blockchain, a customer can trace the initial seeding used to grow a head of lettuce, the method used, the location and the farm that matured the crop.
Walmart has turned to this technology to find the source of the food or where the goods were shipped from and who purchased them, thus track any potential food contamination outbreaks.
Other technologies being used in the food industry are smarter waste recycling and disposal, high-tech packaging, automated delivery vehicles and drones, as well as precision and smart agriculture.
Technology has disrupted the way crops are grown, supplied, processes, packaged and stored. It has vastly improved how it reaches a potential customer’s doorstep, reduced production costs, improved food safety, and quality of service as well as food experience.
Foodtech startups and companies are leveraging cloud kitchen, robotic machines, 3D printing and blockchain technologies to deliver high quality, fresh food in a prompt manner.
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