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5 Things

5 tech things: DoorDash study finds consumers buying consumables online more than ever

This and an AI-created taco becoming a big hit are some of the tech-related developments you may have missed recently.

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:

1.    DoorDash study finds consumers buying consumables online more than ever

DoorDash has released a new report based on a survey of more than 1,200 DoorDash customers which found that 62% of respondents are ordering consumables online more than they did last year, with their top priorities being convenience (74%), ease of use (48%) and speed (46%). In addition, consumers are frequently adding impulse buys to their online orders, with 60% saying they are “somewhat or very likely” to buy new products while browsing online last minute, driven by last minute needs (55%) and the desire to “treat themselves” (45%).

Read more: New DoorDash study looks at quick commerce in online shopping

 2.    AI platform creates best-selling taco for restaurant chain

Velvet Taco, a Dallas-based taco chain with 43 locations nationwide, recently featured the Chat GPTaco created by the artificial intelligence platform Chat GPT as part of its weekly taco feature, and it became the restaurant's best-selling and best-rated taco in 2023. "My head chef came to me and said, 'I found this thing called Chat GPT, and I'm going to plug every menu item we have into it to see what comes up to create the perfect Velvet Taco,'" CEO Clay Dover reported. "The AI recommended what would most appeal to our customer base. So we tested and tasted the recommendations, tweaking the recipe until we had what we thought would work best for our customers."

Read more: Restaurants owners are using AI to make new menu items, like the 'Chat GPTaco' from a Dallas chain that became a hit with customers

3.    Compass conducts successful trial of robots at its HQ restaurants

Compass Group is now using collaborative robots throughout its global headquarters restaurants and conference rooms—as well as supplying them to several large clients—following a successful trial in which Keenbot tray delivery robots from SoftBank Robotics were used to deliver food in the on-site restaurants and across other parts of the building where 200 staff are based at the company's head office in Chertsey, Surrey, in England. During the four-week pilot, the ‘cobots’ delivered meals to tables, removed empty plates and used sound and voice features to enhance customer engagement.

Read more: ‘Cobots’ now firmly part of the kitchen brigade at Compass

4.    Boston University Dining adds scanners to enhance feedback system

Boston University Dining Services has changed its feedback mechanisms this semester, adding e360 feedback scanners as an alternative to the “Happy or Not” feedback devices in the dining halls and hosting in-person student feedback sessions. “We recognized the need for a more comprehensive approach to gathering feedback,” Lynn Cody, director of marketing for BU dining services, wrote in an email. “e360 allows us to move beyond simple yes or no questions, allowing us to gather much more detailed feedback, along with suggestions, and insights.”

Read more: BU Dining Services updates feedback system

5.    Tray delivery program streamlines hospital meal distribution while reducing errors

Tray in Motion, a meal delivery program at Halton Healthcare hospitals in Ontario, Canada that streamlines meal distribution and helps avoid patient tray delivery errors in local hospitals has been recognized as a "leading practice" by Canada’s Health Standards Organization. When a patient’s order is received, a meal ticket is created using barcode information—name, birth date, dietary restrictions or allergies—unique to each individual’s records off their wristband, and a food tray is then assembled based on this information, with instructions shared through the automated Tray in Motion system. When the meal is ready for delivery, a food service team member scans the barcode on the tray and the matching version on a patient’s wristband using an iPad, ensuring that the right meal with the right dietary needs is delivered to the right patient, according to Halton Healthcare.

Read more: Halton Healthcare earns kudos for meal tray delivery program

Bonus: Students are psyched about vending machine meal delivery

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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