Tag Archives: Food & Beverage

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The future of food and beverage lies in online behavior analysis

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Marketing effectiveness is now predicated on analyzing online consumer behavior. We are digitally immersed, and our buying behavior is reflected in our digital footprint across all channels from emails to social media.

AI-driven back-end tools are continually assessing our likes so that marketers can be more efficient in their targeting. The same is true of the food and beverage industry, which is increasingly looking at online consumer conversations for the next step in its journey.

A recent consumer insights report by Social Standards shows distinct shifts in this regard.

The comparative analytics platform converts online consumer conversations into marketing information for companies and brands. While it leans heavily on Instagram, which is the most relevant platform for food and beverage, it also listens to conversations on other channels to provide a consolidated report.

Per the latest report, Social Standards noticed that consumer interest in alcohol is down 18%. This could be a direct result of the macro trend of clean and healthy eating, which particularly affects the alcoholic beverages category.

About 4% of all beverage-related social media conversations are related to health and wellness. The report states that there has been a significant decrease in conversations about heavy drinking and casual drinking occasions. There has been more than 85% growth in conversations about no alcohol or low alcohol consumption, and a 48% increase in health and wellness‑related conversations in alcoholic beverages.

Clean eating and diet-related conversations are often associated with carb consciousness. If beverage makers are listening, they need to address these concerns and create products that align with the new consumer demands. Products like hard seltzer will stride ahead of others, unless those outside of the big, fizzy trend innovate as well.

It seems consumers are sticking to their behavior, a fact that may have significant repercussions for the beverage industry and related businesses like restaurants, bars, and pubs.

In keeping with the upswing in non-alcoholic preferences, traditional midweek drinking occasions like Margarita Mondays, Wine Wednesday and even Friday happy hours have declined over the last two years.

Businesses that take these occasions into account for their marketing plans now need to introduce refreshing drinks options that have a balance between low potency and high flavor.

One major trend to keep in mind are cannabis-infused beverages. Though most do not fall under the alcoholic segment, it seems they are drawing whiskey and IPA drinkers towards them.

Newer products like Dirty Lemon are doing better than traditional beverages because they are listening to these conversations and are agile enough to innovate.

Dirty Lemon, for instance, has used SMS technology to connect with the new-age consumer who responds better to texts than emails. It has reportedly sold more than 2 million bottles since 2015. The company’s bots run 50% of all conversations while 50% are seamlessly transferred to customer support.

The beverage industry is slated to reach $2 trillion globally by 2021. It is also dependent on antiquated distribution systems that plagued by a lack of data. Many manufacturers in the sector still have no clear idea of who their customers are, which prevents effective retargeting. Newbies like Dirty Lemon are not just listening but are implementing creative cross-selling marketing strategies to stay ahead of the disruption.

It’s not just products that are the results of effective social listening. Apps and services can benefit as well. Apps like Badger Liquor will play a big role in augmenting the data.

This app will help consumers track down their favorite beverage in Wisconsin. What’s interesting is that the makers of the app came up with the idea due to active online listening.

The future of food and beverage lies online, and businesses have to be agile and innovative to stay on top of these trends.

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Getting a job at McDonald’s is now as easy as talking to Alexa

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McDonald’s recently introduced the world’s first voice-initiated job application process, called McDonald’s Apply Thru. Now, job seekers can initiate the job application process through McDonald’s Apply Thru by talking to either Alexa or Google Assistant.

How McDonald’s Apply Thru works

The job application process begins with the applicants saying:

“Alexa, help me get a job at McDonald’s,” or, “Google, help me get a job at McDonald’s.”

Then, the job applicants need to answer a few basic questions, including their name, job of interest, and the location where they want to work.

Afterwards, the job applicants receive a text message with a hyperlink that will take the applicants to continue the rest of the application process.

Where McDonald’s Apply Thru serves

McDonald’s Apply Thru is now available in nine countries, including the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, and Spain. It will be made available to other countries in the coming months.

Why McDonald’s Apply Thru is needed

Part of the company’s Made at McDonald’s campaign, McDonald’s Apply Thru highlights the different career paths that its associates can take after working at the fast-food chain. Additionally, McDonald’s plans to launch a career app, allowing eligible employees in the U.S. to explore other career opportunities at McDonald’s as well as those in the healthcare and IT sectors.

The hope is that the efforts can make McDonald’s a more desirable place to work. When the minimum wage is on the rise, and the unemployment rate has reached a 50-year low (3.5% in September 2019), it becomes challenging for the hospitality industry to maintain a reliable workforce. Many job seekers would instead find an eight-to-five job in an office than working at a McDonald’s.

McDonald’s has also taken several initiatives to respond to consumers’ pushes for more automatic services. For example, McDonald’s recently introduced several transformational changes in its new flagship store.

In addition to forming a new partnership in food delivery, the fast-food giant is also testing plant-based burgers and is in the process of eliminating the plastic straws in selected markets. The debut of McDonald’s Apply Thru blends well with such changes.

Other automatic services in talent acquisition

Artificial intelligence (AI) and machines can do more than just helping candidates initiate a job application. Once a job application is received, AI can perform the initial screening based on the candidate’s qualifications and experience.

AI can even conduct job interviews with the candidate, usually with structured interview questions. Then, AI can make recommendations based on an analysis of the recorded interview with the candidate, such as the word choice made by the candidates, intonations, and other nonverbal clues.

The future of job search

As more companies are relying AI on recruiting and selecting the top talents, the process of job searching will very likely involve more automated services.

Job candidates should probably begin embracing new technologies. If they are not comfortable with answering interview questions in front of a camera, for example, they had better practice talking to their phones in a recorded video.

What do you think of McDonald’s voice-initiated job application process? How helpful would it be for McDonald’s to find the right candidates for the jobs?

Then, will the voice-initiated application process become the norm in the job search? At what point during the talent acquisition process must real HR managers involve in the process?

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Why law enforcement needs to be wary of using legal CBD products

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The rise of CBD products has been a huge trend in 2019. People are using CBD to alleviate pain, sleeplessness and relaxation, among other ailments.

However, it seems not everyone is free to use them. Federal employees, state employees, law enforcement officers, and those with security clearances have all been warned against CBD use. Even though CBD has been made legal, CBD products could have THC in them. If officers test positive, their jobs could be at risk.

One Arizona police officer landed in trouble when a CBD vape was found in his car. He was cleared later but not before he went through the trauma that he could lose his job.

A federal law enforcement officer was not so lucky. This now-former officer purchased a CBD oil to treat severe back pain. When he was randomly selected for a drug test at work, he tested positive for THC.

When he bought the product, he was told that it contained no THC, which is the psychoactive compound in marijuana, and was perfectly safe and legal to use. CBD, like marijuana, comes from the cannabis plant but has a different cannabinoid that does not make users high.

Hemp-derived CBD containing trace amounts of THC is legal, but the federal laws are ambiguous, which is creating a lot of confusion within law enforcement agencies.

To ensure that more innocent officers do not lose their jobs, the state of Virginia is investing in a new test that can distinguish marijuana from CBD. Unlike the existing, commonly used field tests in the U.S., this new test can make the distinction and will be a big boon to agencies looking to address this issue.

The testing industry will evolve to deal with the rise in the use of CBD, where it will have the technology to look for the metabolites of CBD and not just the metabolite of THC.

Federal employees have thus been unilaterally warned against CBD usage. The memo stated that only a few FDA-approved drugs could stand as acceptable explanations for a marijuana-positive test result.

In all other cases, even a case as innocent as using CBD oil for pain relief will be verboten. Some departments, like the Department of Defense, have been very stringent in prohibiting CBD use — even though Congress passed a law at the end of last year approving it for everyone else.

It is clear that, along with new and improved testing procedures, the law surrounding hemp-derived CBD products needs to change as well.

CBD-product manufacturers claim the hemp extract CBD can offer medical benefits without getting you high, but there’s little oversight of their claims. The CBD industry is mostly unregulated, which means that we are never 100% sure of the ingredients in a product.

The laws need to take these instances into account so more innocent offices don’t get caught. At a time when we are witnessing officer shortages, agencies may find it harder to hire good candidates or end up losing good and dedicated employees because of these ambiguities.

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Worldwide antibiotic resistance in farm animals is on the rise

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As worldwide demand grows for products delivered through animal husbandry, the industry has increasingly become more reliant upon antimicrobials to treat and prevent infections for animals raised in crowded conditions. These drugs rapidly increase weight gain for quicker delivery of products to market, thereby improving profitability.

The use of antimicrobials has several downstream impacts, including prolific advancement of bacteria resistant to these compounds, which is a severe problem showing increased signs around the world.

The indiscriminate use of the drugs means they are losing their efficacy and potentially impacting human health. The proliferation of these drugs is because a rising number of people in previously non-affluent areas — including India, China, Latin America, and Africa — are wealthier than past generations, leading to more consumption of meat and dairy products.

For example, in Africa, meat consumption has risen by more than half; in Asia and Latin America, it is up by two-thirds. In other words, these are substantial levels of growth for meat-producing economies.

One significant problem with this rise in meat consumption and the use of antimicrobials is that in many less-developed areas of the world experiencing this growth is that they have few if any, surveillance capacities to track antimicrobial use and resistance on farms.

New research led by Thomas Van Boeckel, assistant professor of health geography and policy at ETH Zurich, mapped antimicrobial resistance in animals in low- and middle-income countries in the journal Science. According to the team’s research, it found where and in which animal species resistance occurred for common foodborne bacteria, including Salmonella, E. coli, Campylobacter and Staphylococcus.

High rates of antimicrobial resistance in animals were discovered in northeast China, northeast India, southern Brazil, Iran, and Turkey. In Africa, Nigeria and the surroundings of Johannesburg showed the most effect. In these regions, the bacteria are resistant to a large number of drugs used in animals but also human medicine. An essential finding of the study is that so far, few resistance hotspots have emerged.

The highest resistance rates were with the antimicrobials most often used in animals, including tetracyclines, sulphonamides, penicillin, and quinolones.

In certain regions, these drugs have nearly lost their efficacy to treat infections.”This alarming trend shows that the drugs used in animal farming are rapidly losing their efficacy,” Van Boeckel says, which will affect the sustainability of the animal industry and potentially the health of consumers.

“Antimicrobial resistance is a global problem. There is little point in making considerable efforts to reduce it on one side of the world if it is increasing dramatically on the other side,” the researchers said.

“Antimicrobials have saved millions of human lives, yet the majority (73%) are used in animals raised for food,” the study authors wrote. “Since 2000, meat production has plateaued in high-income countries, but has grown by 68%, 64%, and 40% in Africa, Asia, and South America, respectively.”

As meat production rises, the study data may help target interventions against antimicrobials and assist a transition to more sustainable animal farming in low- and middle-income countries. For example, from 2000 through 2018, the number of antimicrobial drugs to which bacteria that affect cattle have become resistant doubled; for chicken and pigs, resistance has nearly tripled.

“We are largely responsible for this global problem we’ve created,” Van Boeckel concludes. “If we want to help ourselves, we should help others.”

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Are fast-food meat replacement items actually safe for vegans, vegetarians?

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According to Euromonitor, the meat substitutes market in the U.S. will grow to $2.5 billion by 2023. A similar study by Nielsen states that 98% of buyers of meat substitutes in the next five years will be flexitarians and meat-eaters looking to reduce their meat intake.

Demand for meat alternatives is undoubtedly on the rise. Even fast-food chains have started introducing new items to cash in on the latest trend.

In this context, Burger King’s new plant-based burger is creating some controversy for the wrong reasons. Vegetarians are wary of trying it because, well, it is not totally vegetarian.

The meatless burger is made out of a plant-based protein mix that includes soy protein, coconut oil, potato protein, sunflower oil, yeast, salt, and a variety of emulsifying agents. It is attractive not just to vegetarians and to all consumers who demand more sustainably made goods.

However, the fact that the flame-grilled Impossible Whoppers are cooked on the same grill as beef and chicken products has not gone down well with vegetarians. The possibility of the burger coming into contact with bits of meat and poultry as it cooks is very likely.

Vegans are wary for a good reason. However, Burger King has assured the masses that customers can request that their meatless burger be cooked separately.

Burger King is not the only big chain to introduce meatless fast food options. White Castle, Subway and McDonald’s have done the same, or plan to.

McDonald’s plans to add a vegetarian-friendly burger to its menu in order to boost traffic. It could also be an attempt to offset the mounting pressure from its rivals who are adding plant-based options to their menus.

However, the Golden Arches are not in a rush like their counterparts. For McDonald’s, it’s more of a “wait and watch” approach to see if meatless is just a passing trend. While pondering, Burger King swooped it to test the Impossible Whopper.

Subway, which has been struggling in recent years, has partnered with Beyond Meat in the hopes of reviving its profits. Its plant-based meatball marinara sub is one of the first meat replacement offerings on its menu. The limited-time sandwich will be available in the U.S. and Canada.

Beyond Meat’s sales are soaring due to restaurant sales and partnerships with chains like Del Taco, Tim Hortons, Dunkin’, and Subway, among others. Investor and consumer enthusiasm about the growth of vegan meat alternatives paint a rosy picture for the company.

Interestingly enough, both Tim Hortons and Dunkin’ Donuts cook their vegan sandwiches separately from their meat items. The former declared that it also stores its meatless items separately, ensuring that there is no cross-contamination.

Dunkin’ locations that have the Beyond Meat sausage sandwich ensure that it is cooked separately on individual pieces of parchment paper. It also follows strict storage processes to store the patties on separate and individual portion trays.

Perhaps it is easier to separate meat from non-meat when restaurants use convection ovens or similar appliances instead of the broilers that Burger King uses. But in order to cater to all vegan and vegetarian consumers, it may have to come up with a solution soon.

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Drone delivery is coming, but don’t get too excited yet

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Walgreens is now working with Google parent company Alphabet’s Wing service to test a drone delivery service. Beginning in October, Walgreens’ pilot program will use drones to deliver on-demand food, beverages, and over-the-counter non-prescription medications to customers within minutes.

Currently, Wing’s drones can deliver packages of about three pounds and within a six-mile radius.

Competition in drone delivery

Walgreens is not the only retailer who wants to use drones in delivery. Major retailers and courier companies have also responded to consumer demands for faster and more convenient delivery.

Amazon, for example, announced in June that the company planned to roll out free one-day drone delivery to its Prime members in North America.

Amazon’s delivery drones can carry a package that weighs five pounds or less and fly up to 15 minutes. Using drone delivery, Amazon Prime members can receive their orders within 30 minutes after the items leave the warehouse.

UPS also tested drone delivery back in 2017 and now plans to expand that service. UPS drones can carry packages weighing 10 pounds or less and fly up to 30 minutes. In January, CVS also expressed its interest in such a new delivery method, stating that it was ready to compete head-to-head with Amazon, including using drones in delivery.

The big obstacle of drone delivery

Drone delivery can be very helpful in meeting consumers’ on-demand requests. Restaurants, for instance, will be able to consistently deliver freshly made food and beverage items in a short timeframe, regardless of the traffic conditions on the streets.

As exciting as it may sounds, however, the big obstacle of drone delivery that every company must jump over is to get Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) approval. The following are a few examples of criteria the FAA regulates for commercially used unmanned aircraft systems (UAS), such as in the case of UPS:

  • Which areas the drones are operated.
  • What time of the day (or night) the drones can be operated.
  • How fast the drones can fly.
  • At what height or altitude range the drones can fly.
  • Who can operate the drones (e.g., issuing the Remote Pilot Certificate).

Wing received FAA approval in April and became the first company allowed to make commercial drone delivery, starting in part of Virginia.

In June, Amazon received FAA approval, and Uber Eats was also approved to pilot test its drone food delivery service in San Diego. So far, UPS has applied for but not yet received FAA approval.

Concerns about drone delivery

While drone delivery can be very convenient for consumers, concerns also arise when more companies and consumers rely on drones in deliveries.

First and foremost, drones create unnecessary noise for people with sensitive hearing (hyperacusis), which may lead to serious health problems for some residents. Moreover, the noise created by drones can be very distracting or even more harmful for certain types of birds, who have no choice but to share the sky with the drones.

Along the same lines, when more objects (drones) are flying in the sky, I wonder if the sky would remain to be a safe place for the birds anymore.

Then, drone delivery could also raise protentional threats to public safety. A good case in point is Saturday’s attacks by relatively cheap, low-flying drones and cruise missiles on Saudi Aramco’s Abqaiq and Khurais facilities. Strict regulations must be in place to limit the personal as well as commercial usage of drones.

Lastly, I expect drone delivery will work better in suburban areas where people live in houses or townhomes as opposed to places with high population density.

In Manhattan, for example, it might be difficult for a drone to drop off two cups of coffee to a person’s home or office located in one of the units on the 32nd floor of a skyscraper. Plus, it is probably more cost-effective to handle a large number of deliveries with trucks on carefully calculated routes and then to drones to deliver on-demand emergency items.

What do you think of drone delivery? Also, if you have tried drone delivery, what was your experience?

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Want to improve your employees’ health? Lead by example

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Most employees spend at least eight of their 24 daily weekday hours at work. And whether companies want to assume responsibility or not, employees believe that their jobs play a role in their health.

For example, a 2017 CareerBuilder survey found that 56% of Americans are overweight and they blame it on sitting a desk most of the day; being too tired from work to exercise; having to skip meals because of time constraints; and having to engage in workplace celebrations.

Employees, especially healthy employees, are the lifeblood of an organization. Many companies are implementing wellness programs with varying levels of success.

However, according to Chris McReynolds, CEO of Wellsource, which provides health risk assessments and self-management tools, creating a culture of wellness has to start with the C-suite.

Leaders lead by example

As John Maxwell would say, “To lead any other way than by example, we send a fuzzy picture of leadership to others.”

So, you can’t create a wellness policy and then expect employees to fully engage if you don’t. “If you say you care for your employees, and a wellness program has developed from that value, then participate in it,” McReynolds says.

If you didn’t participate in creating the wellness initiatives, you need to at least understand and be a part of them. “Whether it’s going out for a walk, unplugging from work while on vacation, or choosing a healthy option at the next team lunch, your employees will take notice when you’re walking the walk of health.”

Creating a culture of health

McReynolds says a company’s culture isn’t dictated — it’s demonstrated, and it starts with leaders who build credibility by acting with integrity. “These leaders decide, intentionally, what they want to be known for and then they live that out, day by day, decision by decision.” Employees who identify with these traits respond by supporting and reflecting these behaviors.

“A leader who publicly praises the virtues of a health-focused culture, can’t privately demand unhealthy work ethics and schedules, because this kind of double standard is toxic for the culture.”

For example, a West Monroe Partners study found that over half of employees are uncomfortable asking for time off during the holidays because their managers expect them to be available. That’s why there must be symmetry between words and actions before employees will trust their leaders.

“Once the leaders set the tone by making healthy choices, and intentional opportunities are created to help others do the same, that health culture begins to flourish.” When this happens, McReynolds says that although the wellness program was planted from the top down, it grows from the bottom up.

Workplace changes companies can implement to help employees

When choosing changes to implement, make sure they resonate with the employees. “So, the first step is to really understand each of your employees’ health status and their desire to make positive change,” McReynolds says.

“At Wellsource, we do this through our health risk assessment, which asks traditional questions about diet, exercise, and stress; but also assesses employees’ readiness to make healthy changes.” When you know where employees are on their health journey, it will be easier for you to implement programs that will resonate with your employees.

Other considerations

Whether you’re implementing or revamping a wellness program at your company, McReynolds recommends giving some thought to your work environment.

“It’s like gardening: if you transplant a beautiful, healthy rose bush from good soil to bad soil, you are not going to continue to get beautiful roses.” Likewise, he says you can’t buy a world-class wellness program without considering the environment you want to plant it in.

“Sometimes the best thing a company can do before they launch a new wellness program is get solid, reliable feedback from their employees about the work environment.” If there’s an issue with the soil, he says it’s going to be difficult to get the “good stuff,” to grow. In other words, you might end up with weeds.

“Start by building trust with your employees,” McReynolds recommends. “It takes time, but as you do, you’ll have an environment where both the health of the business and the health of your employees can flourish.”

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The most important job of a leader

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To discuss talent, your organization’s needs, or anything you read in the article below, email Roberta at roberta@matusonconsulting.com.

What do you think the most important job of a leader is?

  • Is it to motivate the team to achieve departmental business objectives?
  • Engage employees to ensure they are highly productive?
  • Drive home business results?

While the above are essential, none are the most important job of a leader. Why? Because a leader cannot accomplish any of this without the right people on his or her team.

Therefore, the most critical job of a leader is to hire the right people.

Think about it. When you make great hires, you no longer waste precious time playing referee between employees who don’t get along.

Nor are you spending the majority of your energy trying to bring B players up to A status. You have an easier time hitting your targets because you have the right people in the right roles rowing together in the right direction.

Hiring managers spend as little time as possible hiring people. Crazy, right?

Look, I get it. Hiring is a lot like dating. You have to kiss a lot of frogs before you meet the right one. And who likes kissing frogs?

What if I told you there was a way to spend less time hiring, while at the same time improving the quality of your hiring decisions? Would you then be willing to shift your thinking and embrace your role as a hiring manager?

First, you need to approach the hiring process with a positive mindset. None of this, “I don’t have time to hire people,” or “Hiring is an HR function” stuff. There’s a reason why managers are called hiring managers. That’s because it’s their responsibility (again, not HR) to hire.

Or if you prefer, we can go back to the ‘60s where leaders had no say as to who was on their team. Managers were assigned employees. Yet, their performance was measured based on how well they managed these people.

No thanks! I’d rather be in charge of my destiny, and I’m sure you would prefer this as well.

Next, you must get really good at assessing candidates. The better you are at this, the faster this process will go. Take an interviewing course, download my book “Selecting for Success,” or hire someone to coach you through this process. Just do something!

Lastly, you need to turn your entire team into a recruiting machine. Imagine how much easier it will be to fill positions when you’ve got multiple people working with you on this initiative.

Team members will be thrilled to go along with you on this journey. I mean, who wouldn’t want to be in the position of selecting their co-workers?

It’s been my experience that when leaders excel at hiring, they see their careers soar.

Why? Because senior management has the confidence that these people are world-class leaders. They can assemble and manage high-performance teams that are critical for continued business growth.

Enough talk. Let’s get hiring!

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Want oven-fresh delivery food? A new startup makes it possible

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Many consumers love ordering food online to have it delivered to their home. Food delivery has become a big business for restaurants and grocery stores.

Others, like me, are still feeling skeptical about delivery food despite its convenience.

First, there is no guarantee that the delivery drivers won’t touch the food. A study cited by Newsweek reveals that more than one in every four (28%) delivery persons has tasted the food from an order. 54% admitted that they were often tempted by the smell of the food for customers.

Also, I do not think my food would taste fresh or as good after it was sitting inside a container for a good amount of time. Lastly, most food being delivered is stored in containers that are not made of sustainable materials.

It was not until I heard of Zume Pizza, a startup in the Bay Area, that I saw myself ordering food online in the future. Zume Pizza stands out from other restaurants by combining robots, predictive analytics, and mobile ovens in the production and delivery of pizzas.

How Zume Pizza works

  • It gathers relevant information, such as weather, sports events, school schedules, etc., to estimate how many and what types of pizzas it will sell for the day.
  • Consumers place an order online or with a mobile app during the day.
  • Robots, alongside with real human beings (at this point), will prepare the partially cooked pizzas in Zume’s production kitchen.

According to Zume’s initial operating procedures (as shown in the video above),

  • The partially cooked pizzas will then be loaded in Zume’s delivery trucks, where over 50 small ovens are installed.
  • The delivery trucks will take off for delivery.
  • The cooking of the pizzas will be resumed in the small ovens just four minutes before the pizzas are delivered to a household, using the predicted algorithm with GPS data.

According to Zume’s most updated operating procedures (as shown on the company website),

  • The partially cooked pizzas will be loaded into the mobile kitchens (food trucks) with smart ovens.
  • The mobile kitchens will head out and park in a neighborhood.
  • A mobile or online order will then activate the individual ovens to finish the very last step of cooking.
  • The delivery drivers will deliver the pizzas when they are ready.

It is unclear why the company changed its operating procedures, but it might be for higher production efficiency. I prefer Zume’s initial operating procedures because it gives me the hope of having freshly made restaurant food delivered to my home in the future.

Automation in the foodservice business

Restaurants are embracing the opportunities for automatic service to lower labor costs and respond to consumer demands. Automation has already become an essential part of the production process for many restaurant chains and food retailers, from ordering to performing a variety of cooking tasks in the kitchen.

Along the same lines, food delivery companies have also begun testing robot delivery in selected markets, including Beijing and Shenzhen in China as well as university campuses in the United States.

What does the future of automation hold?

I believe new business opportunities will emerge for those who are ready and will be not replaced by machines at work. More virtual restaurants, for example, were born as a result of the booming food delivery business.

To stay ahead of the competitors, entrepreneurs must think of creative ways to integrate more automatic service components into a business’ existing production line. Zume’s initial operating procedure is a good example in that regard.

What does the future hold for automatic service in restaurants or the foodservice business in general? Any thoughts?

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Cannabis-infused beer could be on tap in the future

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Usually, if you told beer lovers that the next big trend would involve non-alcoholic beverages, you probably wouldn’t be very popular with them. But if you tell them that it is cannabis being added to beer and not just a sugary virgin cocktail, then you may just redeem yourself in their eyes.

In that vein, cannabis beer seems to be the new craft beer on the horizon.

However, cannabis-infused beer alternatives have been confusing even for CBD enthusiasts who are game to try anything.

Initially, alcohol industry stalwarts and groups tried to prevent cannabis legalization. But when they saw that the movement is unstoppable, they decided to join it and market cannabis beer as an alternative drink.

The emerging cannabis space offered a viable solution for them when the beer market reached saturation and the craft beer segment slowed down. With consumers continually looking for something new, cannabis beer represents one of the most significant growth opportunities for the industry as a whole.

The latest to make such an entry announcement is Canadian brewer Providence Brands, which is all set to launch a cannabis beer in Ireland next year. The beer will give drinkers a “high” within about five minutes but will also help them come down quickly due to the presence of decelerates in it.

Cannabis beer contains THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) — the active ingredient in cannabis and the reason for the high. For regions where THC is illegal, brewers are experimenting with CBD (cannabidiol), another ingredient in cannabis that causes the user to feel relaxed.

Boston Beer is another big name that announced its entry into the cannabis market after the success of its hard seltzer business. Others, like Lagunitas Brewing, launched cannabis-infused sparkling water.

Corona beer maker Constellation Brands bought a sizable stake in cannabis maker Canopy Growth, and Molson Coors acquired a majority stake in cannabis producer Hydropothecary.

Recreational use of cannabis is legal in Canada, many U.S. states, and regions of Europe. But despite all the hue and cry, cannabis beer is not legal yet. Combining THC with alcohol and selling it commercially is illegal almost everywhere.

So, right now, the THC-infused “beers” that are making waves are actually non-alcoholic. Once the fermentation process is over, isolated THC strains are added.

They are also not to be confused with legal CBD beers, which are brewed using cannabis stems, stalks and roots. Makers of cannabis-infused beer say that their products are healthier and more aligned with what millennials want. It remains to be seen where the industry goes from here.

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