Happy long weekend, to those of you lucky enough to have one! This is a cause for celebration — and for food tech news. This week was heavy on grocery, from Tesla shipping trucks to international in-store vertical farms. Enjoy!
Kroger expands Ship, enables voice ordering for grocery pickup
It was quite a week for grocery giant Kroger! First, the company expanded Ship, its home delivery service, to the Mid-Atlantic region, covering Virginia, West Virginia, and the Raleigh-Durham area (h/t BizJournal). With this latest expansion, Ship is now offered in each Kroger store division. According to BizJournal, the company will next roll it out to their other divisions, like Harris Teeter and Ralphs.
A few days later, the grocery chain let drop on their Linkedin page that they would be launching voice-enabled ordering through an action on the Google Assistant voice app (h/t FoodDive). Customers can access the app through iOS, Android, or Google Assistant, and use it to view their Kroger Grocery Pickup. So far, the service is available in six banner stores including QFC and Fred Meyer.
Amazon unveils new food-related variable type for Alexa
Speaking of voice assistants, this week Amazon added four new variable types to Alexa’s skillset, including AMAZON.Food. According to VentureBeat, AMAZON.Food “captures food items, such as ‘bacon,’ ‘scrambled egg,’ and ‘lemon juice,'” so that it can help users save time and have better voice experiences. All the recently-announced skills are in public beta and can be used in skills published to the Alexa Skills Store.
Albertsons adds 10 Tesla semi trucks to its delivery crew
On Tuesday grocery chain Albertsons announced that it is purchasing 10 all-electric Tesla tractors for its Southern California fleet. The trucks will be able to travel between 300 and 500 miles on a single charge, even when pulling a fully stocked trailer. This move is part of the company’s efforts to reduce carbon emissions, as part of their overarching sustainability agenda.
Ember launches copper mug for the holidays
Looking for a gift for the coffee/tea/hot chocolate lover in your life? Ember, the company that makes connected mugs/thermoses that allows users to precisely control the temperature of their drinks, launched a copper mug today. The metallic mug costs $129.99 and joins Embers’ travel and ceramic mug.
Vertical farming company Infarm crosses country lines into Paris
Berlin-based startup Infarm, which installs small vertical farms inside grocery stores and restaurants, is expanding out of Germany for the first time — and into Paris (h/t Techcrunch). The French launch of Infarm’s in-store farm unit will be at the Metro flagship store later this month. This expansion comes after the company raised a $25 million Series A in February of this year.
Google’s new algorithm can help you avoid food poisoning
Google has teamed up with Harvard to develop an algorithm which alerts you to restaurants that carry a higher risk of food poisoning. As Harvard reports, the algorithm uses machine learning to flags search terms associated with food poisoning (like “vomiting”) and check them against the location history of the affected user. Using this information, it can determine likely restaurant food safety issues, after which it can alert local health inspectors to investigate.
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