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:
- Subway installs first smart fridge unit on UC-San Diego campus
As part of the Subway sandwich chain’s efforts to get food closer to customers and expand into non-traditional locations, the company has installed its first interactive, unattended smart fridge at the University of California San Diego. The fridges feature artificial intelligence and language processing so customers can speak to it and ask about any of the products inside, which are restocked daily by the franchisee’s nearby restaurant location.
Read more: Subway taps into unattended Grab & Go vending fridges
- “No kill” meat firm awaiting FDA approval to market its products
After years of experimentation by a crew of biologists, biochemists and engineers looking to grow meat artificially, food tech firm Upside Foods is awaiting approval from the Food & Drug Administration to begin selling its first cultivated meat products, with enough production capacity at its plant in California to produce over 50,000 pounds per year. Upside Foods is one of more than 80 companies vying for market share in "no kill" meat, which seeks to satisfy consumer cravings for animal protein without slaughtering animals.
Read more: From science fiction to reality, 'no kill' meat may be coming soon
- Indoor farm at distribution center will offer day-of-harvest produce to customers
United Natural Foods Inc. plans to co-locate high-tech indoor farms from Square Roots on-site at selected distribution centers starting next year, with the first one slated to open at its facility in Precott, Wisc. next year. The indoor farms provide optimal conditions to grow fresh produce consistently throughout the year, with the crops harvested and packed inside the facility and ready for distribution to customers on the same day of harvest.
Read more: UNFI to deploy indoor farms at distribution centers
- Indiana University to add up to a dozen more Farmers Fridge smart fridges
Farmer’s Fridge is planning to place 10 to 12 more “smart fridges” on Indiana University’s campus as part of their upcoming expansion plan that builds on the single one currently located at the school's Simon Music Center. Farmer's Fridge units, about the size of a vending machine, feature a variety of healthy food options such as salads, granola bowls and sandwiches and currently are on more than 50 college campuses across the Midwest and Northeast.
Read more: ‘Smart Fridges’ are providing healthy food options on IU’s campus
- Sweetgreen to test fully automated restaurants
Casual dining chain Sweetgreen will test fully automated restaurants next year that will cut labor in half and increase order accuracy, CEO Jonathan Neman announced on the chain’s Q3 earnings call. “These restaurants will serve our food with even better quality, perfect portioning, faster speed and will create a more consistent customer experience, all while elevating the role of our team members,” Neman said.
Read more: Sweetgreen to test fully automated restaurants
Bonus: Top 12 sports/recreation food service stories of 2022
Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]