Coming off the heels 2020 Consumer Electronics Show (CES), one thing is certain: There are plenty of innovations ready to take the world by storm. The Consumer Technology Association held its annual trade show last week, and some of new products and pieces of technology that were on display certainly will impact the direction of the foodservice industry. Whether you own a restaurant or work in a commercial kitchen, some of these inventions and advancements can change how your establishment operates. Here are five noteworthy foodservice and restaurant innovations from CES 2020.
Picnic, a Seattle-based food automation company, showcased its pizza-making robot during the event. The robotic equipment serves as an all-in-one assembly line that can prep and cook up to 180 18″ and 300 12″ pizzas in an hour. Once the dough is laid down, the equipment quickly puts on the sauce, cheese and toppings before cooking one pizza in a matter of minutes.
So when can you expect to see this pizza-making machine? According to Picnic’s official announcement in October, the company already has two prominent customers: Centerplate and Washington-based restaurant Zaucer Pizza. Centerplate, a live-event catering service from more than 200 venues, will use the equipment at T-Mobile Park in Seattle.
Believe it or not, one of the biggest unveilings at CES had nothing to do with tech. Impossible Food revealed their new plant-based pork replacement at this year’s show. Much like their popular line of meat and chicken alternatives, the pork solution is made with a soy protein to help mimic the taste and texture of the real thing. While this option is expected to be a major focus in a few years in Asia, select U.S. consumers will get a taste of the new product shortly. Impossible is slated to release its new pork sausage alternative later this month at 139 Burger King locations for a limited time only.
The addition of the pork to the Impossible lineup shouldn’t come as a surprise. According to a New York Times report from July 2019, the California-based company also hopes to create a fishless-fish soon and have suitable protein substitutes for all animal-based foods by 2035. Not to mention, other companies are cutting into the market. Impossible’s main competitor, Beyond, continues to come up with meatless alternatives as well, including a recently launched wheat-based fried chicken substitute for KFC. Also, major companies like Nestle and Kellogg throwing their hat in the plant-based ring.
Food Delivery Drone
While it’s no surprise that delivery tech is a cutting-edge fast food trend, the Manna drone food delivery service still managed to turn heads at CES. The small aircraft is designed to deliver your food quickly and conveniently. Per an exclusive interview with CNET, Manna Chief Executive Bobby Healy said the drone has a three-battery cassette that uses one battery during the flight while the other two charge. According to Healy, this allows the aircraft to make a single delivery in three minutes and achieve five deliveries per hour.
However, unlike other delivery-drone concepts that were revealed to the market last year, this one has also has special built-in technology. During the show, Manna announced a three-year deal with Cubic Telecom that would link the drones to 5G network connection using the Cubic’s Pace connectivity platform. What does this mean? Users will be able to track their orders in real time, following the drone’s precise location and distance from start to finish.
Game-Changing Kitchen Equipment
The kitchen equipment on display was mainly geared toward residential use, but the concepts could eventually make their way to more commercial kitchens over the next decade. General Electric unveiled an upgraded Kitchen Hub. Kitchen Hub is a connected kitchen powered through Android OS or Android Things that lets users do things like view recipes, control lighting and search the internet via voice command or from a 27-inch touchscreen. The latest version includes upgraded equipment, including a built-in microwave and three cameras – one inside the microwave, one over the range and one for chats.
LG had a nice showing at this year’s show. The LG Indoor Gardening System uses advanced lighting, temperature and water control, letting you grow fresh herbs, leafy veggies and greens indoors. For folks in the foodservice space, you might have seen something similar last year. Carter-Hoffmann showcased its GardenChef Growing Cabinet at multiple events in 2019, including the 100th National Restaurant Association Show. If new indoor gardening equipment is prevalent in both residential and commercial, more solutions could pop up on the market in the next few years.
Another LG item that turned many heads was the ThinQ refrigerator. These upgraded InstaView fridge allows you to track what’s inside, meaning your know what ingredients to add to your grocery list. It also features new A.I. technology that recommend recipes based on the ingredients you have available. Could a commercial version follow suite? It certainly would make inventory management a whole lot easier.