LG announced today that it will integrate Tovala’s cooking technology into select LG ovens and ranges later this year. This means that people will be able to cook Tovala meals without the need for Tovala’s countertop smart oven in yet another move that makes the startup more of an open cooking platform.
Cooking Tovala meals with LG appliances will be a little different than cooking with the Tovala smart oven itself. Customers will scan the Tovala meal’s barcode with the Tovala mobile app, which will communicate the automated cook program to the connected LG appliance. What’s curious is that not all of the compatible LG models include a steam cooking function, which Tovala’s oven has, so we wonder how that will impact the finished product.
More importantly, however, is that this is the second move in as many weeks where Tovala has opened up its products. Last week, the company introduced the Scan the Store feature for its smart oven that allows people to scan the barcodes of store-bought foods and have the device automatically cook them. That move broadened the utility of the Tovala oven, and today’s partnership makes the company’s meal plans available to people who don’t own a Tovala. Though that potential audience can’t be very big, as I don’t imagine there are a lot of people without Tovala ovens clamoring for the company’s meal kits.
However, partnering with LG may not be about getting new meal kit customers, it could be making those meal kits more useful to existing customers. What isn’t mentioned in the press release is whether the larger cooking cavity of a traditional oven will allow people to cook more meals at a time. As my boss, Mike Wolf noted in his second-gen Tovala review, because the oven is small, it’s not as ideal for cooking for a family of four.
Tovala’s moves are part of an overall trend in opening up cooking platforms. The June smart oven has a dedicated Whole Foods button to automatically cook foods from that grocer, and will probably add more buttons. And instead of developing its own service, Brava offers accompanying meal kits from a number of different providers in its marketplace.