Happy pre-Independence Day weekend, everyone! I hope you have lots of cherry pies and popsicles planned, and maybe a good rooftop for watching fireworks.
Before holiday madness sets in, take a few minutes to catch up on this week’s food tech news. Here at the Spoon we wrote about Kroger’s new self-driving delivery vehicles, super-smart microwave ovens, robot baristas 2.0. We also did a quick recap on our most recent meetup focused on creative food waste solutions.
But we didn’t have time to write about all the food tech news of the week, so here are a few stories that stood out to us from around the web. Read up while you’re waiting for that cherry pie to bake.
BrightFarms raises $55 million for more indoor farms
This week indoor farming startup BrightFarms raised $55 million in a Series D round led by Cox Enterprises Inc. The company grows produce inside glass-walled farms, which enables them to have a nearly year-long growing season. As of now, they sell lettuce and other salad greens to grocery retailers including Kroger and Walmart, and according to the Wall Street Journal they’ll use their new capital to set up more indoor farms. This news comes just a few days after Crop One Holdings teamed up with Emirates Flight Catering to create the world’s largest vertical farm.
Wow Bao goes fully cashless
Fast casual restaurant Wow Bao announced this week that it would be closing its second-oldest location and opening a new one with a fully automated front-of-house. This decision comes less than a year after the Chicago-based company started using Eatsa’s cashless, automated ordering system at one of its restaurants. The trial run was clearly a success. Like other spots featuring Eatsa’s technology (the company recently pivoted to a B2B model), Wow Bao customers to order their via an app or a kiosk, and pick it up from a cubby once it’s ready. The new unit will open on July 4th on Chicago’s Michigan Avenue.
Lagunitas + CannaCraft debut cannabis-infused drinks
This week Heineken-owned brewing company Lagunitas announced the launch of two marijuana-infused sparkling water beverages. It partnered with vaping product company CannaCraft to develop the drinks in August of last year. Called Hi-Fi Hops, the drinks contain no alcohol but come in two cannabis dose options: one contains 5mg each of THC and CBD, and another contains 10mg of THC. Across the mountains in Colorado, the inventor of Blue Moon is also working on a THC-infused, non-alcoholic beer, expected this fall. Lagunitas’ buzzy beverages will debut at California dispensaries on June 30th and will retail for $8.
H-E-B announces 1-hour beer and wine delivery + sad beer news
In other beer news, Texas-based supermarket chain H-E-B announced this week that Favor, the delivery company it acquired in February, will now offer beer and wine delivery (as long as it’s purchased from H-E-B, of course). Starting on June 29th, 30 cities throughout Texas can order one-hour delivery of the boozy beverages. In sadder beer news, this week beer tap technology inventor Todd Keeling was found dead inside a walk-in beer cooler at the Atlanta Suntrust Park, where the Braves baseball team played. His technology was designed to reduce beer pour times from an average of 14 seconds to an average of 5, and had already been installed at the Chicago White Sox’s Guaranteed Rate Field and the Minnesota Twins’ Target Field.
New production method uses electricity to cook french fries
In New Zealand, this week researchers at the University of Otago began a test to experiment with large-scale french fry production made with an unusual cooking method: pulsed electric field (PEF). The technology uses super-quick pulses of electricity to disrupt the cell membranes of plant or animal material, which yields more uniform, quicker-cooking french fries. The University of Otago will put PEF tech to the test in a three-month trial. Smart Kitchen Summit Startup Showcase finalist IXL’s e-Cooker technology also used PEF technology, which speeds up cooking time, uses less energy, and doesn’t require any cooking fat.
Did we miss anything? Tweet us @TheSpoonTech to let us know!