In this special edition of its 5 Things series, Food Management highlights five recent technology-related developments affecting the foodservice world.
Here’s your list for today:
- Equipment innovations on display at NAFEM show
After five years of absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, NAFEM (North American Association of Food Equipment Manufacturers) was back this year in Orlando showcasing the latest and greatest in foodservice equipment and technology. As expected, labor-saving robots and automation were the stars of the show—from back of the house robot arms to help in the kitchen, to automated pizza ovens and salad bars—but environmentally focused equipment with an eye toward zero waste also proved intriguing.
- George Mason celebrates four years of robot food delivery service
Four years ago, George Mason University became the first college campus in the United States to offer autonomous food delivery through Starship Technologies. The initial fleet of 25 robots has now grown to nearly 60 and has delivered more than 333,000 orders from more than 17,334 people—including one individual who alone has placed 659! Robot delivery orders at Mason since 2019 have included 39,828 for coffees and while pizza might be the quintessential college food, the most popular item for the past four years has been Steak ‘N Shake’s The Original Double ‘N Fries, which has been ordered 13,637 times. For a video recap, go here.
- US Foods adds Bear Robotics and 7shifts to business tool offerings
National foodservice distributor US Foods has added Bear Robotics and 7shifts as technology partners for its CHECK Business Tools offering after each participated in the company’s Innovative Partnerships incubator program. Bear Robotics markets the Servi hospitality robot that runs food, delivers drinks and buses dishes back to the kitchen, eliminating repetitive service needs, while 7shifts offers an all-in-one team management platform that can be used across mobile and desktop, designed specifically for restaurants in areas like scheduling, communication and tip management.
- Amazon to market high-tech-grown greens
Less than two years after investing in climate-tech startup Hippo Harvest, Amazon is selling the company’s first line of leafy green lettuces, which are grown using 92% less water and 55% less fertilizer than conventional produce, according to Hippo Harvest. The lettuce mixes are also farmed using machine learning and robots that operate in greenhouses close to the customer base. For a video report, go here.
- Vanderbilt installs self-serve dairy-free ice cream machine in dining hall
The Commons Dining Center at Vanderbilt University has installed a soft-serve ice cream machine that serves dairy-free ice cream and is the first self-serve ice cream option available at the university. It is included as part of the all you can eat meal swipe and runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. daily. A university representative said that this addition to the dining center will allow students and faculty who are lactose intolerant or have dietary restrictions to have three dairy-free soft-serve ice cream flavors: vanilla, chocolate and vanilla-chocolate swirl.
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]