What a week for food tech fundraising! From DoorDash’s $250 million to a hefty raise for cellular aquaculture company BlueNalu to not one, not two, but three fundraising rounds for food waste startups, it’s been a doozy.
But in between all the raises and self-driving grocery delivery cars and shoppable recipe companies, there were plenty of other food tech stories this week. We rolled them all up right here for your summer weekend perusing pleasure:
Starbucks debuts plant-based blended coffee drinks
This week Starbucks rolled out a new icy beverage to cool down fitness lovers this summer. Their ‘Protein Blended Cold Brew‘ drink is made of cold brew (duh), plant-based proteins and alternative milks, whizzed up to make a frothy, vegan-friendly quaff. One drink is made with almond milk and butter, while the other has coconut milk and cocoa — both bevs have at least 10 grams of protein. With their new creation Starbucks is cashing in big time on three big trends: plant-based dairy, cold brew, and high protein nutrition.
Google develops AI assistant to help with your meal plan
News broke this week that Google is creating an AI-powered wellness tool. Called “Google Coach” (though the name might change), Android Police reported that the smart assistant will act not only as a fitness service — tracking times, recommending workouts, etc. — but could also function as a nutrition and meal-planning tool. It will be able to recommend dishes at restaurants to match your diet, and can also generate meal plans and shopping lists, which it will email to you directly. Google will initially roll out Google Coach on Wear OS, but might eventually a develop smartphone application as well.
Kroger and Alibaba team up to create an online grocery store
Kroger, the largest grocery chain in the U.S., announced a partnership with China e-commerce giant Alibaba. Together they’ll create a pilot test of an online store, which will sell goods from Kroger’s organic private label Simple Truth in Alibaba’s online marketplace. Like Amazon in the U.S., Alibaba is working to usurp brick-and-mortar grocery stores in favor of online ordering and delivery. And by forming partnerships like this one (in addition to experimenting with robotic fulfillment centers and self-driving delivery vehicles), Kroger is working hard to stay relevant in the shifting grocery market.
Walmart reports strongest Q2 in 10 years
Speaking of grocery wars, Walmart appears to be doing pretty well. This week Supermarket News reported that the grocery giant posted its strongest same-store sales growth in 10 years in the second quarter of 2019. President and CEO Doug McMillon credited the strong quarter to e-commerce and other efforts to make shopping quicker and more convenient, such as curbside grocery pickup. Judging by the innovations Walmart has in the works — from its Eden freshness technology to robot shopping carts — the grocery store is experimenting pretty widely to find out how to continue to make shopping even more convenient in the future.
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