Sodexo is making a major play to innovate its campus foodservice program by bringing eat>NOW brand autonomous grocery stores, high tech vending, and virtual dining concepts delivered by robots to campuses across the U.S. this spring.
“Students want three things: convenience, choice, and quality—often in that order,” explains Kevin Rettle, global vice president of Sodexo Innovation and Digital, Universities. “Sodexo is in the business of helping our clients meet those needs head on, so we’re introducing campuses to the latest in innovative foodservice with eat>NOW autonomous grocery stores, high-tech vending, partnering with the top brands that students are looking for, and delivering it to their doors.”
In partnership with AI-enabled autonomous shopping solutions vendor AiFi, Sodexo will debut an eat>NOW frictionless, checkout-free grocery and convenience offer at the University of Denver with a grand opening on April 6.
Meanwhile, in partnership with Yo Kai Express, Sodexo clients will be offering clients high-tech vending machines serving more than 80 ramen and udon noodle bowl combinations. Already on campuses such as New Mexico State University, Yo Kai Express kiosks allow guests to place their orders and make payments via touch screen. The technology allows Sodexo to provide students with 24/7 access to attractive meal choices, particularly late at night when demand is highest and options are limited.
Finally, in partnership with Virtual Dining Concepts, Sodexo will be offering campuses three delivery-only options on its Bite App for Universities. Virtual Dining Concepts features delivery-only concepts such as MrBeast Burger, Mariah’s Cookies and Buddy V’s Cake Slice and is already in place on Sodexo-operated campuses such as Gonzaga University, where the brands’ offerings are being delivered to customer dorm rooms.
Sodexo has been aggressively expanding its tech-based programs across its portfolio over the past year, planning to add robot delivery to 50 campuses by the end of 2022, expanding its online order/delivery service for corporate clients with Foodee and acquiring commissary kitchen operator Nourish a year ago. In addition, its agreement earlier this year to acquire Frontline Food Services promises to help broaden its multi-channel offerings in areas such as click n' collect, take-out, delivery, convenience store concepts, micro markets, self-service pantries, office refreshments and smart vending.