I recall a conversation I had with a produce manager at a large supermarket in Spring 2020 and they described how at this point in the pandemic shopping craziness nothing was off the table. They had seen things they never thought they would and each day brought something new. Consumer behavior was erratic and all of the trends and planning seemed to be upended and put on hold. Here we are, December of 2020 and we are all more comfortable with the many changes put in place. As we look towards 2021 we can see some exciting and innovative trends emerging.
Robotics and No-Contact Food Prep
As companies are working out the best ways to follow COVID-19 social distancing rules they are relying on more tools and technology. QSR Magazine highlights some of the different challenges in A Restaurant's Guide to No-Contact Delivery mentioning how restaurants are using kitchen tools like tongs to handle food for delivery. Many large companies are looking towards robotics too as a solution to providing no contact food preparation.
Today in a Walmart in Dixon, California a new Blendid kiosk is opening. Blendid is an autonomous smoothie-making robot that creates contactless and customized smoothies. Consumers order through the app or at the kiosk.
“Blendid is on a mission to make delicious and customized food accessible to all through the use of robotics and AI,” explained Vipin Jain, CEO and co-founder of Sunnyvale, California-based Blendid. “Launching our first Jamba by Blendid kiosk further expands our goals and accessibility. We’re proud to team up with the leading smoothie brand on this new opportunity to provide a solution for contactless food preparation and delivery, which has become imperative during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Blendid chose to work with Jamba, already well known for its freshly blended fruit and vegetable smoothies, made-to-order bowls, fresh-squeezed juices, and shots, boosts and bites. Read more in the Progressive Grocer article,
Co-Branding & Strategic Partnerships
Blendid partnered with Jamba to feature their drink recipes. As noted in The Spoon article, linking their product to Jamba establishes consumer understanding. Customers link Jamba to smoothies and immediately understand the purpose of the robot when they see the Jamba logo.
"The advantage to a robotic kiosk, of course, is the ability to extend a brand like Jamba’s into new locations without needing to build out a full restaurant." Read more from The Spoon.
Other robotic companies have also embraced partnerships with well known brands. As discussed in The Spoon, Sally the Fresh Food Robot, from Chowbotics has entered into a partnership with Saladworks. This partnership is a great win-win arrangement because it brings the Saladworks brand and known menu, with a small footprint, Sally takes up only a 3 x 3 space, into new markets such as hospitals, universities and supermarkets. It expands the brand without having to open new store locations. Chowbotics creates a delicious product and using the Saladworks menu brings the high quality salad options to different locations in a contactless way, you can purchase through an app.
We look forward to following the growing robotic trends in the healthy food arena in the new year. We hope to be a part of helping our customers create new safe ways to provide healthy fresh produce options. We are very excited to be able to offer Sally, The Fresh Food Robot to our customers. If you would like more information about Sally let us know and we will send you over the details.