Thu. Dec 7th, 2023
    5 Upcoming Technological Innovations Shaping the Foodservice Industry

    1. Sodexo Expands Use of Robots for Patient Support

    Sodexo, a leading foodservice provider in healthcare facilities, is partnering with tech firm Bear Robotics to introduce indoor self-driving service robots. These robots will assist in performing routine tasks within healthcare environments. Sodexo CEO of U.S. Healthcare & Seniors unit, Molly Matthews, expressed excitement about the operational efficiencies that will result from these robots’ ability to navigate complex indoor spaces with precision and reliability. Strategic pilots for this program are set to commence in the coming year.

    2. College Students Embrace Mobile App Payments

    According to the 2023 Student Financial Experience Report from TouchNet, approximately 85% of college students utilize their smartphones for making payments, while 95% use at least one app to interact with their institution. This report also highlights that only 10% of students use their campus card for on-campus dining payments. Instead, about 25% rely on their dining plan, and 20% opt for credit or debit cards.

    3. Chipotle Founder Ventures into Robot-Powered Meatless Restaurants

    Steve Ells, the founder and former CEO of Chipotle, will be launching a new startup called Kernel. The venture aims to open restaurants powered by robots with a focus on serving meat-free sandwiches. The first location is expected to open in Manhattan, followed by a dozen more in New York over the next two years. Each restaurant will rely on a small team of three individuals working alongside robots to create meat-free burgers, faux chicken sandwiches, salads, acai bowls, and more.

    4. Campus Dining Solicits Student Feedback with HappyorNot Machine

    California Polytechnic State University San Luis Obispo has introduced the HappyorNot Machine in its Vista Grande Dining Hall to collect feedback from students regarding their dining experiences. With a range of emoticon faces, participants can select the face that best represents their satisfaction level and provide written feedback. Campus Dining has already received over 800 responses through this system and plans to expand its usage to other locations across the campus.

    5. AI-Powered Program Adjusts Menu Prices Based on Ingredient Costs

    Strangers & Saints, a Cape Cod restaurant, is utilizing an AI-powered computer program called Stellar Menus to track ingredient prices in real-time. By monitoring cost fluctuations, the program recommends appropriate adjustments to menu prices for dishes containing those ingredients. This allows the restaurant to efficiently adapt pricing and avoid the dilemma of either increasing prices across the board or removing expensive dishes from the menu.


    Q: What is the purpose of Sodexo’s partnership with Bear Robotics?
    A: The partnership aims to deploy indoor self-driving service robots to assist in routine tasks within healthcare environments.

    Q: How do college students prefer to make payments?
    A: According to the 2023 Student Financial Experience Report, 85% of college students use their smartphones for payments, while only 10% utilize their campus card for on-campus dining payments.

    Q: What is the concept behind Kernel, the startup founded by Chipotle’s ex-CEO?
    A: Kernel focuses on opening robot-powered restaurants serving meat-free sandwiches, with plans to open their first location in Manhattan and expand to more locations in New York.

    Q: How does the HappyorNot Machine work in campus dining?
    A: The machine collects student feedback through a range of emoticon faces, allowing participants to indicate their satisfaction level and provide written feedback.

    Q: How does Stellar Menus AI program help restaurants?
    A: Stellar Menus tracks ingredient prices in real-time and recommends menu price adjustments to reflect those costs, enabling restaurants to efficiently adapt pricing strategies.