Anything from toasters to toilets are now connected to the internet, and with cars seem set to start driving themselves, is it really so far-fetched to think that automatons might

soon be making our meals? Here, Julia Edmonds, MD of Lexington Catering, talks about how technology and food are becoming increasingly intertwined.

We hear lots of talk about robot chefs, in fact a London-based robotics firmunveiled a robotic chef a few years ago. The reality is that it wasn’t able to cook like a human, and came with a hefty price tag.

Whilst the catering and hospitality industry is far from being taken over by machines, technological advancements are a certainty and as an industry we need to be prepared. As contract caterers, we need to know which developments will add real value, how to adapt to the disruption caused by others, and try to stay ahead of the game.

And tech is not the only thing putting pressure on the sector. Restaurants, catering companies and almost everyone who works with food are facing enormous cost pressures. From Michelin star eateries to fledgling delivery firms, all of us are being asked to do more for less just to stay in the game. If technology can help us deal with issues like this, then it should be embraced rather than feared.

Technology is particularly important to millennials and future customers and employees – research from Elior, The Millennial Eater, found 66% of millennials favour outlets that are active on social media, and expect technology to be part of the eating out experience. Technology is part of their everyday life and therefore they expect food experience to incorporate technology in some way, shape or form.

The reality is that technology needs to be at the heart of many changes as the industry moves forward, impacting sales, customer experience, delivery, ordering, waste and marketing. It really can enhance what we do.

There was a time when trying to cater for dozens, if not hundreds, of different people was a nightmare for


chefs. They might all have different dietary requirements, preferences and dislikes and it was incredibly difficult to please everyone all of the time.

But trying to cater for everyone’s eating preferences doesn’t have to be challenge it might once have been. We have partnered with Vita Mojo, a London-based restaurant and software company, who are using technology to improve and personalise their service. Vita Mojo has created a platform that allows customers to personalise their meal with a ‘build your own’ option, and then customise the nutritional content of the food, tailoring it to suit their individual needs. Customers can control the amount of protein, carbohydrate or fat required for every single meal they eat.

This type of technology doesn’t just please customers, it has the potential to impact bottom line by increasing the average customer visit by 6% and increasing the average transactional value with digital ordering by 20%. There are additional benefits that come with the technology, such as speeding up customer service, improving the customer experience and reducing food waste.

The software the company uses also gives them the ability to receive instant feedback from customers, enabling them to measure, act and respond to any issues instantly.

When you have so much information at your fingertips it is much easier to make the big decisions. You are better able to forecast ahead, you are able

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