Out of adversity, comes invention and opportunity. In these challenging times, it’s more important to be able to pivot, transition, and adapt than ever before.
With movement restricted and social distancing measures becoming the new normal for restaurants, we have seen an acceleration in the move to digital technology for food businesses. For many, it has become essential, rather than simply forward-thinking, to get on board with online ordering, delivery, and ecommerce platforms.
Despite the ensuing panic and chaos, some tech platforms have been ideally placed to help food businesses make these shifts. Or they themselves have pivoted to stay relevant and make the best of the situation. The platforms that do well now are likely to remain at the forefront – as they are agile and are garnering goodwill by helping businesses survive.
Here are our top 10 emerging platforms or tech empowered concepts that we believe will power the future of the food industry.
Emerging Food Technology Platforms that are Set to Power the Future of Food
We’ve talked about the rise of online farmer’s markets in previous posts. One such platform, What’s Good, was born as a spin-off from Crave, an aggregator system that makes it easier for chefs to order quality ingredients from local suppliers. The aim is to take on big food by connecting independent growers and small producers directly with concerned and empowered users.
The move to a consumer platform has proved a smart one, especially thanks to the lockdown, as it has allowed immobilized users to access fresh local produce directly from producers and farms in their area. The platform aggregates hundreds of suppliers so that customers can shop from many different sources at their convenience. Customers can order on the app and receive their items at local pick up points or via delivery. What’s Good is available on-the-go via a mobile app, and operates in Boston, Rhode Island, Virginia, Chicago, Houston, and New Orleans.
The Kitchen Door connects food entrepreneurs with commissary and shared commercial kitchen spaces available for rent. Chefs, caterers, bakers, food truckers, and other food industry pioneers can type in their zip code and The Kitchen Door shows available kitchen spaces locally. One of the benefits of connecting kitchens to users is that it provides a lower barrier to entry to cash-strapped entrepreneurs, allowing them to pursue their dreams without worrying about the hassle of hiring their own kitchen. Meanwhile avoiding the risks and impracticalities of bending the rules and trying to do it at home. The last few months have shown a significant increase in the number of available commercial kitchens spaces to rent, as well as new concepts looking to start their food businesses.
The Kitchen Door is the largest such platform and has already connected thousands of shared kitchen owners with tenants. The platform is part of The Food Corridor family, which provides all sorts of resources, support, and connections to the shared kitchen and food industry start-up community, from ebooks and guides on best practices, articles and blog updates like this one, to The NICK, The Network for Incubator and Commissary Kitchens, a lively Facebook discussion group where the meet-and-drink activity of debate, sharing of stresses and successes, and peer-support between interested parties takes place.
Hungry provides an affordable way to get delicious chef-made meals delivered to your home. The app connects top chefs with hungry consumers directly, helping caterers and personal chefs – badly affected by the cancellation of so many events, weddings, and other staple gigs this summer – connect with households that need feeding.
In a world where social distancing is the norm, platforms like Hungry are likely to play a defining role in determining how we access high-quality meals and provide a new avenue for independent chefs and caterers to make a living moving forward. After closing a funding round right before Covid-19, the Hungry team was able to make meaningful pivots to their busienss model to address the issues of the day. We see that move leading them into a bright future.
Lunchbox bills itself as an all-in-one ordering suite for restaurants. The platform helps restaurants set up digital ordering systems via branded apps, websites, kiosk interfaces, and anything else they need. The system integrates with all the major delivery partners and POS systems and has built-in marketing features to help maximize conversions and optimize with analytics. The main benefit for restaurants is the easy setup and convenience of inputting product data into one system.
In response to the pandemic, Lunchbox developed two new products to help restaurants pivot.
Before Covid-19 the industry was seeing that customer ordering habits were becoming more digital. The quarantine/lockdown has hit fast forward on wider adoption of having digital ordering out of necessity. It’s important for platforms like ours to educate restaurants that are new to this market the benefits of first-party ordering and not to rely on third-party marketplaces.