Whereas 2020 was a dumpster hearth of a yr in so some ways, it was truly one thing of a banner yr for meals tech, and there was lots to rejoice in our little nook of the world, together with:
I checked in with the 2020 meals tech predictions I made on the finish of 2019. Again then, previous to the pandemic, I had stated two large tendencies to look out for was the rise of fairness crowdfunding and semi-permanent pop-up retail.
Seems, I used to be 1 for two on that depend. Fairness crowdfunding definitely took off, particularly for food-related robots. As I not too long ago wrote:
Fairness crowdfunding, or eschewing institutional enterprise capital cash in favor of opening funding as much as nearly anybody, did appear to catch on this yr. Small Robotic Firm, Winc, Miso Robotics, Mellow, Piestro, Kiwibot, Renewal Mill, Bobacino and Blendid all launched or introduced fairness crowdfunding campaigns this yr.
Pop-up retail, however, acquired pushed apart by the pandemic. As I additionally not too long ago wrote:
These small, plug-and-play retail environments are simple to arrange inside workplace buildings (or simply about anyplace, actually). They may, as an illustration, permit a grocer like Safeway to construct a small, unattended Safeway-branded retailer in a foyer, or a hospital or prepare station. It is a lot cheaper than constructing out or retrofitting an current area. And since there’s no cashier, they are often extra economical to run.
However the pandemic pressured folks to keep away from places of work and different high-traffic areas, and subsequently pushed them into file quantities of on-line grocery procuring from residence. As such, retailers wanted to focus much less on creating new retail areas and extra on their very own logistics and achievement to accommodate all these new e-commerce orders.
My colleague Jenn Marston additionally mirrored again on the previous yr and concluded that 2020 was the yr indoor farming acquired large and ghost kitchens acquired sophisticated.
As she wrote about indoor farming:
There definitely have been plenty of notable happenings. InFarm additional expanded its idea of inserting its pod-like mini farms in grocery shops. Numerous firms, together with Aerogarden, MyFood, Rise Gardens, Aspara, and Farmshelf supplied vertical gardens constructed for the buyer residence. And on that notice, at CES 2020, each LG and GE unveiled ideas to show indoor farming into the subsequent large residence equipment class. Producers of at-home farms, specifically, reported spikes in demand ensuing from the pandemic and our sudden collective curiosity in at-home meals sovereignty.
Ghost kitchens have been very a lot alive and kicking up a storm in 2020, however they weren’t a once-size-fits-all panacea for a restaurant business devastated by COVID. As Jenn wrote:
Over the past yr, we noticed the rising recognition of the so-called “darkish kitchens.” These are underutilized kitchen areas eating places are utilizing to satisfy their supply and off-premises orders. Fats Manufacturers is one notable instance of an organization utilizing its personal eating places as darkish kitchens for sister manufacturers. Ordermark/NextBite, in the meantime, constructed out its enterprise this yr of pairing eating places with unused kitchen area with a purpose to ship (actually and metaphorically) extra meals from digital restaurant ideas. One other nice instance is Hello Neighbor, a San Francisco restaurant group that needed to shut due to the pandemic. Its response was to make use of one in every of its shuttered kitchens to simply accept and fulfill supply orders for its personal digital ideas. Hello Neighbor is only one native instance of a pattern occurring nationwide.
Alongside these investments, much more codecs emerged of what a ghost kitchen may appear like and the way it may grow to be extra environment friendly. ClusterTruck, which has operated a vertically built-in supply enterprise for years, teamed up with Kroger to show the latter’s deli counters right into a sort of ghost kitchen. Extra not too long ago, Crave Collective opened in Boise, Idaho to point out us what a fine-dining tackle a ghost kitchen seems to be like. And the QSRs, lastly acquired onboard, with everybody from Chipotle to McDonald’s unveiling new retailer codecs that decrease or eradicate the eating room and are in impact their very own model of a ghost kitchen.
However sufficient discuss of what’s already occurred. Let’s stay up for see what assume will occur subsequent yr in meals tech.
2021 Meals Tech Predictions
The excellent news is that since 2020 was a very good yr for meals tech, 2021 can construct on that to grow to be a spectacular one.
There may be actually a lot innovation occurring throughout all of meals tech that it’s onerous to slim our predictions down. However Jenn and I took a stab at it, and right here’s what we expect it’s best to look out for in 2021.
Mike Wolf: 4 Predictions for the Way forward for Meals in 2021
Cultured Meat Milestones Will Speed up – Funding will develop and pleasure will construct as extra firms transfer out of the labs and into early pilot manufacturing services for his or her cultured meat merchandise. Different nations will comply with Singapore’s lead and provides regulatory inexperienced mild for the sale of cultured meat. And eventually, we’ll see the debut of extra cultured meat merchandise in high-end delicacies as cooks look to attain comparable firsts for his or her eating places.
Fermentation Powers Development in Thrilling New Shopper-Dealing with Merchandise – Trying ahead, you’ll be able to count on plenty of new merchandise to debut powered by precision fermentation in 2021. MeliBio, a maker of bee-free honey, expects to debut their first product in 2021, whereas Clara Meals plans to launch its animal-free egg this yr as effectively, and I count on to see extra firms like Courageous Robotic stand up and supply new merchandise that to merchandise constructed round precision fermented meals platforms created by firms like Good Day.
CRISPR and Gene-Edited Meals See Accelerated Product Pipelines – Whereas there was plenty of give attention to CRISPR-derived future meals innovation, I count on modifications to US regulatory oversight of gene-edited animal merchandise to create a wave of latest curiosity in creating CRISPR-based product strains from each startups and established meals product firms.
3D Meals Printing Strikes Past the Cake – Corporations like Redefine Meat are making high-volume plant-based meat printers and plan to have meat in supermarkets in a yr, whereas others like Meat-Tech are exhibiting off prototypes of cultured meat printers. One of many challenges for meals printing might be scaling the expertise to make it faster, one thing Novameat is engaged on because it begins to enter industrial rollout section of its plant-based meat printing expertise.
Learn his full story right here.
Jenn Marston: In 2021, Restaurant Tech Funding Will Be All In regards to the Again of Home
(Excerpt) Investments in 2020 have been, understandably, geared in the direction of reopening the eating room in ways in which have been seemingly safer and fewer depending on human-to-human interactions. Nonetheless, as eating places closed and reopened, then closed once more, curiosity shifted to ghost kitchens and restaurant codecs with little to no entrance of home of their design. As we’ve stated many instances over the past couple months, the restaurant business shouldn’t be retreating from this give attention to to-go orders. Even when eating rooms are as soon as once more fit for human consumption in, ghost kitchens will stay and QSRs can have fewer seats indoors.
That makes now, heading into 2021, the time for optimizing kitchen operations.
Anybody who’s frolicked within the restaurant again of home is aware of it’s in a league of its personal on the subject of orchestrated chaos. Un-orchestrated, too, since dozens of variables can change at any second and have an effect on the velocity and high quality at which meals leaves the kitchen and will get to prospects. Lacking substances. Staff calling in sick final minute. Eggs cooked too early and drying out beneath the warmth lamp. All of these items the meals, the client expertise, and a restaurant’s margins, nearly all of that are made and misplaced within the kitchen.
Learn her full 2021 take right here.
Chris Albrecht: 2021 Meals Tech Predictions: Screens Invade Shops and Commerce Goes Cellular
In-store procuring goes to look much more like Vegas subsequent yr. Grocery shops, drug shops, comfort shops will begin putting in large, vivid LED screens on cooler doorways and retailer cabinets. These screens will permit for dynamic pricing, full movement promoting and new upselling alternatives. And they are going to be too good for large retailers to move up.
We’re already seeing this with installations from firms like Cooler Screens and AWM Good Shelf. And whereas all these large screens might really feel just a little Blade Runner-y, grocery procuring won’t ever be boring once more.
Whereas I don’t assume cellular commerce will go mainstream subsequent yr, the items are in place to create retail experiences that actually roll as much as wherever you’re.
On the smaller finish, Cheetah Cellular’s FANBOT is a robotic mini comfort retailer in China. It carries 66 gadgets like snacks and drinks and wanders round high-traffic areas like malls and airports. Clients can cease the FANBOT and purchase a drink proper on the spot.
On the bigger finish, Robomart has already began opened its first store-on-wheels idea within the West Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles. The grocery model continues to be a number of weeks out, however the premise easy, use your telephone to hail the shop, which drives to your location. Seize what you need and get charged robotically.
My full story is right here.
Whereas 2020 was onerous to get by means of, 2021 is shaping as much as be an thrilling yr, and we will’t wait to deliver you all the perfect meals tech information that comes with it.
A particular phrase of thanks.
In all honesty, 2020 was a harsh yr for lots of people and as Editor in Chief of The Spoon, I wish to take a second to say thanks to all our readers.
You caught with us all year long as we launched our Spoon+ membership service and helped us transition our annual Good Kitchen Summit right into a digital occasion that was an enormous success. We couldn’t have accomplished it with out you.
So from everybody right here at The Spoon, thanks. Thanks for studying, thanks for commenting, thanks for sending us these information ideas and thanks to your assist. We admire it and also you and sit up for connecting with you all all through 2021.
Pleased new yr!