SMART INNOVATIONS IN THE FOOD INDUSTRY
Artificial Intelligence has already made significant strides in the Food and Beverage market. And it’s only going to get bigger! According to a report, AI will see a CAGR of over 65.3 percent between 2020 and 2025 in the F&B market. This advancement in the food industry isn’t solitary. A lot is happening here – a lot more is expected. Collectively, they promise to bring seamless opportunities for the business owners in the food industry.
Breakout equipment Innovation
In recent times, tech integration in kitchen equipment has seen a massive jump. We now have a host of highly sophisticated kitchen equipment that are based on AI, Machine Learning, and Internet-of-Things framework. One can talk to their microwave now. The blender can be automated and not require manual supervising. The cookware can, on its own, know when the food is ready. On a large scale, kitchen robotics is already widely adopted by the big food chains. For instance, only recently, Kuka unveiled the world’s “first fast food robot”. Kuka is a German manufacturer of industrial robots. Its KR 3 Agilius, a fully automated fast-food counter, serves snacks, desserts, and beverages – touting to cover 100 orders per hour, round-the-clock, seven days a week.
Collectively, the equipment innovation in this segment unlocks plenty of benefits. Of course, away from the hype of efficiency, the end-foods are delicious to the last grain. In addition, such smart appliances and deployment of kitchen robotics also add to cost-saving, workplace safety, and higher convenience.
The Next-level automation in kitchen
Kitchen automation isn’t a new concept. However, the level of progression it has seen in recent times is tremendous. It’s much more than just putting appliances on a timer. It includes refined pieces of tech that leverage kitchen data, integration capabilities, mobile access, and more to achieve unmatched operational and cost-efficacy. A lot of this progress has to do with many dedicated companies like Mukunda Foods and QSR Automations who have risen up to the occasion. They are delivering food business owners the ideal custom solution for their unique needs and requirements, helping them adeptly re-think their model for something much better.
(Deep) CRM Integration
The fast-casual restaurants have transpired an essential pathway for the fast-food chains to prioritize customer experience as an elemental business component. Of course, foods need to be of outstanding quality. However, the end customers expect a lot more now, including better pricing, improved quality in everything, and higher convenience. And owing to the massive competition, the food business owners have not many choices but to either deliver on these demands for the good experience or risk losing market share. In fact, per New Voice Media, 51 percent of customers will never do business with a company after one negative experience. This has brought CRM integration in great demand.
CRM solutions are now more than just about information storage and billing. The new-age integration taps on extensive data to integrate different ends of handling individual customers – right FROM advanced booking, recording customer behavior and digital valet parking TO coordinating with the food preparation, billing and availing discounts. This deep integration brings much more transparency, competence, and cost-effectiveness in dealing with individual customers, positively adding to the experience of customers. This is important for the business owners knowing 7 out of 10 US consumers say they spent more money to do business with a company that delivers great service.
The New-Age of Self-Serving
Self-serving solutions have, hands-down, seen the biggest headway in the QSR segment. FROM deploying basic kitchen robotics to assist humans TO now having customers being handled by machines end-to-end, there’s a big change. On a more basic front, self-order kiosks are having a moment in the fast-food space. Alicia Kelso, on Forbes, explains “this swift swing of the pendulum was pushed in motion by major restaurant brands revisiting kiosk deployments at an aggressive pace, as well as younger consumers native to digital screens.”
According to research by Tillster, 65 percent of customers said they would visit a restaurant more often if it offers self-service kiosks. There’s a reason, after all, why bigger brands like McDonald’s and Burger King are investing big on self-serving infrastructure. Not just for the mere spectacle of technology but because they are seeing significant and consistent notch in their returns.
As we move forward, the self-serving tech will get even more advanced and accurate. Also, as these technologies get more popular, their price would inevitably take a slide, becoming more accessible to smaller-scale businesses. Restaurants and food chains who could otherwise not afford them, many of them will make bigger strides forward to embrace and accommodate self-serving solutions and robotics.
Plus, A LOT MORE
The food industry is among those with the most innovations and fast growth. So, a lot is happening, both on a smaller scale, as well as on the larger view. This includes something as common as digital table reservations through mobile apps, as well as something as big as automating kitchens end-to-end with CRM integration.
As previously mentioned, AI, ML, and IoT are at the center of these innovations. Undeniably, the Holy Grail for many food business owners is higher efficiency, better quality foods, and improved customer experience, which enables them the opportunities to cut costs and cap higher profit margins. In fact, did you know that the average cost of food today is 13 times less than it was a century ago? A big reason for that trend is the lowered cost of inputs and preparations for the food businesses, which eventually maps to the role technology has progressively played in this sector. However, the wider kitchen tech adoption also has plenty of other good intents. One of the foremost ones is workplace safety. Machines minimize the possible risks in every stage. The world’s largest meat-packing firm trying robot butchers to prevent injuries is only one among several of the examples.
Advanced technology is also making a significant impact in the packaging department, which has always had the limelight owing to its health repercussions and ill effect on the environment. Many business owners in the food industry are using advanced technology to find alternatives in packaging that are better, health-friendly and keep the quality of the food intact. Of course, robots make packaging foods effortlessly quick and efficient. According to a report, between 2017 and 2018, the food and consumer goods segment reported a record-setting growth of 47.6 percent in North America owing to the deployment of robotics.Food tech is also taking important measures to treat extra or waste food better. This is important given 40 percent of the foods in the USA are thrown away annually, which has become a rallying topic for the citizens.
What’s In Store This Decade?
From how foods are manufactured, processed, and packaged to how restaurant owners run their operations, prepare foods and deliver a seamless customer experience – the food industry has completely changed. Even those reluctant to adopt technologies have identified the need of the hour to evolve – and then evolve some more. The previous decade saw business owners in this segment make bigger jumps to improve their game. This new decade promises nothing less. If anything, the advancements would be beyond expectations. Let’s not forget 5G is almost here, 3D printing is only getting better, and drone technology is nearly fool-proof.
As Techcrunch underlines, “Investments in food tech will continue to increase to help deliver on the promise of healthier, more sustainable food systems for the world. After all, we are what we eat.” Only, in addition, away from the consumer front, from the business point-of-view, food tech would also deliver on the promises of profitable and more sustainable businesses in the world – businesses that would enjoy access to convenience, efficiency, and opportunities that are unparalleled to any of the previous years.