Fast-casual chain Sweetgreen will use much of the $200 million it raised in a recent funding round on technology, including delivery systems and blockchain technology that provides supply chain transparency. "We want to go beyond a food company and become a platform," said co-founder and co-CEO Jonathan Neman.
Brian Sikes has been tapped to lead Cargill's global protein business effective early next year. Sikes will succeed Todd Hall, who is retiring following 36 years with the company.
Plant-based protein beverage startup Koia launched nationwide in Whole Foods two years ago and is projecting $10 million in sales this year. CEO Chris Hunter says the brand was able to stand out in a crowded marketplace by employing such strategies as in-store demos, merchandising, price reductions and targeted product labeling.
Robotics are poised to expand exponentially in the restaurant industry and other business segments, and the speed of the rollout is likely to surprise consumers, panelists said at the National Restaurant Association's Restaurant Innovation Summit. "I think that in the next six months, we will deploy robots to customers in ways that will shock people," said John Miller, CEO of CaliBurger parent Cali Group, which already has introduced Flippy, the burger-flipping robot.
Eatsa, an automated restaurant concept that has morphed into a technology platform that the company is rolling out to other chains, wins with consumers who crave their convenience with a dash of fun, CEO Tim Young said. Wow Bao has opened three eateries using the platform, which lets customers track their food from ordering kiosks until it lands in the pickup cubbies.
Technology is playing a growing role in consumers' interactions with restaurants, according to a National Restaurant Association survey. Chains are taking a more holistic approach to the role of IT specialist, which increasingly requires a team with diverse skills and an understanding of how the company's systems work together.
Artificial intelligence is on track to grow to a $3.9 trillion global industry by 2022, according to Gartner, and the technology is driving change in the restaurant industry. AI is playing a growing role in areas including food preparation, customer service, food safety and supply chain logistics.
To successfully launch a food brand in China, think about local tastes and create an 18- to 24-month innovation pipeline, writes Roshni Chatterjee of Kraft Heinz. "Fade is very high; consumers won't forgive the long innovation rates of traditional consumer packaged goods companies," Chatterjee notes.
Consumers often have preconceived opinions of what a drink will taste like based on the color, according to the findings of a new study from Pennsylvania State University. "This might have implications in the food industry if a company were to launch a new flavored product with a color [as] some consumers might not learn or accept a new color and flavor pairing as well as others," said Molly Higgins, doctoral candidate and study co-author.
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