The coronavirus pandemic continues to change the way we get our food. More consumers want easy contactless grocery shopping. Many also desire customizable on-demand fresh offerings featuring high-quality ingredients, but with a contactless payment and pickup experience. In The Freedonia Group National Online Consumer Survey (conducted November – December 2020), 54% of respondents indicated that they were more concerned about food safety and germs transmitted during food delivery because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The next generation of food business plans are using smart refrigerated equipment to not only meet consumers where they are but to also fulfill their demands for a seamless, convenient, and contactless transaction:
- Sally the Salad Robot from Chowbotics has been seeing increasing installations, first designed as a vending machine replacement in healthcare settings, but now replacing salad bars in grocery store chains (e.g., Heinen’s and Piggly Wiggly).
- Smart, temperature controlled pickup kiosks are rolling out in a few grocery stores for click-and-collect operations, designed to ease collection and staging operations as well as to potentially place pickup locations away from grocery stores themselves.
- Being able to offer meals off-premises and close to customers is the driving force behind start-up Alvo as it places smart refrigerators stocked with prepared meals in apartment buildings. After initially installing the refrigerators in office buildings, the firm shifted during the pandemic to residential placements to meet customers where they are.
- In contrast with Alvo, Farmer’s Fridge has concentrated on offering its smart fridges stocked with salads, oat bowls, and other healthier food options in offices, airports, and hospitals. More recently, the company announced it would debut as a pilot project in select Dunkin’ restaurants in Chicago and New Jersey.
Expect to see continued development as grocers and foodservice vendors seek to make click-and-collect more efficient, to reduce worker time and make the experience more frictionless. Commercial refrigeration and vending machine companies will continue to innovate to fit that market need.
For more information and discussion of opportunities, see The Freedonia Group’s extensive collection of off-the-shelf research, including Global Foodservice, Foodservice Single-Use Products, Global Foodservice Single-Use Products, Retail Bags, Protective Packaging, Commercial Refrigeration Equipment, and Global E-Commerce Packaging. Related reports from our sister publisher, Packaged Facts, include Food Carryout & Delivery, Food Carryout & Delivery: Special COVID-19 Consumer Insights, Consumer & Corporate Food Gifting in the US, US Food Market Outlook 2020: Home Cooking, Grocery Shopping & Food Trends in the Age of Coronavirus, Global Food E-Commerce, and Online Grocery in the US. Freedonia Custom Research is also available for questions requiring tailored market intelligence.