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5 tech things: All Whole Foods stores will offer Amazon One palm payment by end of this year

This and public schools in Korea turning to robots to address a cafeteria labor shortage 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.    Whole Foods to offer Amazon One palm payment at all stores by end of year

By the end of this year, all 500+ Whole Foods Market locations in the U.S. will offer Amazon One for payment and Prime membership benefits, which means Whole Foods Market customers who choose to use Amazon One will no longer need their wallet or even a phone to pay—they can simply hover their palm over an Amazon One device. For Prime members who link their Amazon One profile with their Amazon account, savings will automatically be applied.

Read more: Amazon One palm payment technology is coming to all 500+ Whole Foods Market stores in the U.S.

 2.    Robots to fill labor gap in Korean public schools

The Korea Institute for Robot Industry Advancement signed a memorandum of understanding with the Seoul Metropolitan Office of Education to put cooking robots to use on a trial basis at public schools in the second half of this year as a way to deal with a shortage of cafeteria workers. The robots will fill 274 positions left vacant after many school cafeteria workers quit citing health issues brought on by labor-intensive catering and meal preparation work, such as joint and muscle ailments caused by repetitive labor.

Read more: Robots to prepare meals in public schools

3.    Pizza chain plans vending machine and fully autonomous standalone restaurant

Donatos Pizza plans to debut a pizza vending machine in collaboration with tech firm Appetronix in Donatos’ hometown of Columbus, Ohio. In addition, the company announced plans to open a fully autonomous Donatos standalone restaurant concept and to launch small prep-bots for its existing restaurants.

Read more: Longstanding Columbus pizzeria announces a pizza vending machine and robot-run restaurant

4.    New York county to test anaerobic composting of food scraps from local hospital and jail

Monroe County and the town of Pittsford in New York will be launching a series of one-year trial programs in late September to gather food waste from the kitchens of the county jail and Monroe Community Hospital, and from 500 residents. “It's an anaerobic composting program,” said Pittsford town Supervisor Bill Smith. “And that is the ultimate purpose of this, to be able to break down the organic matter, and then the resulting (natural) gas will be used to generate electricity, which then can be sold back to the grid.”

Read more: Monroe County and Pittsford are trying to turn food scraps into electricity

5.    Chipotle expects to add more AI and automation, exec says

“We see opportunities for more automation in food prep and dish washing,” said Chipotle Chief Customer and Technology Officer Curt Garner in an interview with PYMNTS. “These are areas that consistently come up in conversations with crew members...We see potential in leveraging AI [artificial intelligence] to help our managers be more precise in the amount of food they’re prepping for their restaurants. Anything we can do to help our teams more easily recover from a strong sales day is an area we’re prioritizing.”

Read more: Chipotle CTO: AI Could Transform Everything From Food Prep to Dishwashing

Bonus: Sodexo to acquire A.H. Management

Contact Mike Buzalka at [email protected]

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