Foodservice Is Embracing Technology

The Lempert Report
March 28, 2019

Wired reports that a new batch of food focused investment firms are pumping hundreds of millions of dollars into “early-stage scalable restaurant concepts” powered by AI and data mining apps.

These food platforms incorporate technology as a base ingredient. For example,Wired says that nearly half of Sweetgreen’s customer orders are placed through its app; that data is used to tweak menu offerings and make personalized recommendations. A proposed update would even use 23andMe results to create meals that are “customized” to your microbiome. Having taken both 23/me and Habit DNA tests I found lots of great info – but being able to take that info and actually be able to implement it into my diet is difficult. So this concept could be a game changer.

Sweetgreen also predicts its daily food needs and minimizes waste with the help of machine learning that crunches information like historical purchases, weather, and local events. IoT sensors at suppliers’ farms monitor growing conditions, and the company says it has started tracking produce from seed to store with logs built atop the blockchain.

“The next five years will be more disruptive to food service operators than the last 50,” says restaurant consultant Aaron Allen, pointing to the boom in online ordering, which is expected to grow nearly four times faster than the rest of the restaurant industry, and in delivery-only “ghost kitchens.” 

The VCs are betting, says Wired, that diners are willing to trade physical restaurants—and personal data—for AI-extracted “content.”