by Brian Rosen
President of Gleason Technology
In a world of ordering meals through apps and an increase in self-driving cars, it’s safe to say technology is advancing at a rapid pace. Long gone are the days when families prioritized a family meal out on the town. Nowadays, it’s more common to simply order takeout with the click of a button and your credit card information. You don’t even have to change out of your pajamas or leave your couch for a hot meal to be delivered right to your door! As the new year takes shape, what are some of the food industry and technology trends we should expect this year?
Believe it or not, research shows that automation is no longer just an idea for the far future; 2019 may be the year we see an increase in technology-controlled labor. Before last year’s end, the world saw the testing of everything from Flippy, a burger-flipping robot, to Penny, a self-serving busboy. As minimum-wage continues to rise, the overall need and interest in technology-driven work is expected to exist in full-force. Many restaurants and food-related establishments are looking to cut the costs of labor by creating machinery similar to Flippy and Penny.
Ghosts are now out and about far beyond the Halloween season. Forbes reported in recent months that there’s a nation-wide rise in “ghost restaurants.” In other words, there are restaurants that exist solely for delivery purposes. This isn’t just a trend that will come and go, either: big-name chefs are behind some of these “virtual restaurants.” What’s more, these restaurants are proving to be successful and profitable in the age of a very on-demand world, from Netflix-watching to a rise in the freelance industry and gig economy. This also allows restaurants to save more money on operation, labor, and dining costs; without the need for a full-fledged dining room, there’s more money to spend elsewhere.
It also seems that cash is a thing of the past. Though credit cards are certainly nothing new, the new buzz is centered around mobile-first payments. In 2017, mobile payments grew about 75%. Big name establishments are a big reason why this trend has soared in previous years. There was a wide increase in loyalty apps that allow customer to input their credit card information for efficient, on-the-go payments. Plus, these apps also provide incentives, like free meals or drinks on a consumer’s birthday to turning spending into a points-earned system.
Mobile apps aren’t just changing consumer behavior. New food industry apps are helping commercial kitchens, restaurants and grocery/convenience stores become more efficient and profitable by innovating processes and digitizing recordkeeping. For example, RiskLimiter Kitchen is a newly-introduced app that helps restaurants better monitor, record and control food temperatures via mobile devices. It’s the first app of its kind in the world and simplifies everything from cooling & heating logs to hot/cold holding and cook temperature monitoring. The app’s many benefits include reducing product loss, cutting labor costs, ensuring compliance and even preventing, or defending, ugly lawsuits. With the ability to send real-time temperature reports, alerts and suggested corrective measures, there is less room for food failure and more room for food safety.
It’s good to know where technology is heading in 2019, but even better to use that technology to grow your business.