My dad is buying a June Oven.

Normally, I wouldn’t foist the day-to-day tech purchases of the Albrecht family on our Spoon readers, but it occurred to me that this particular decision is somewhat emblematic of where the entire food tech sector is at, and why 2019 could be a watershed year for the industry at large.

Why does my septuagenarian father, who normally doesn’t give a whit about gadgets, want a June? Because it’s automated, repeatable and to him, safer. He likes how the June will cook meat to the proper temperature automatically, that he’ll get the same result every time, and how he doesn’t have to worry about whether or not he left the stove on when he’s out and about. And I’m sure he’s not an outlier.

The second-gen June is among a raft of smart cooking appliances coming to market. The Brava, second-gen Tovala, and the forthcoming Suvie have the ability to turn everyday people into people who cook every day. And as these appliances get more affordable, the audience for them is moving beyond early adopters and into the mainstream.

We’ve seen this greater interest in food tech reflected in our readership. Our audience grew by 186 percent since January of this year, and we had our fourth and biggest ever Smart Kitchen Summit in Seattle this October. It’s not just smart ovens that people want to know about. This year, our readers have loved stories on alternate proteins, news about the changing delivery landscape, CBD products, food robots, food personalization and more.

All this is to say that food tech is being called up to the big leagues in a big way in 2019. Speaking of which, you should check out some of our specific predictions for the coming year. Catherine Lamb wrote about the coming rise of CBD edibles. Jenn Marston said to watch out for more ghost kitchens and drone deliveries. And I raised my articulating hand to say that 2019 will be a breakthrough year for food robots.

But before we pop the champagne get all Auld Lang Syne, let’s take a look at the last bit of big food tech news in 2018.

Mike Wolf got the scoop on the much-delayed Spinn Coffee maker raising $3 million. Will this cash infusion mean that the connected coffee maker will finally make it to market?

For those budding or serial entrepreneurs looking for a little help with their food tech ambitions next year, Jenn put together a list of big CPG company accelerators like those from Land O’ Lakes and Coca-Cola.

As Amazon Gos continue to pop up around the country, the debate over who gets to participate in the cashless retail revolution will heat up. One company looking to make the Go experience available to all is All_ebt. We confirmed this week that All_ebt’s users on SNAP assistance will be able to shop (for USDA approved items) at cashless grocery stores like Go.

And finally, if you are looking for a new holiday tradition — may we suggest you be like Catherine and her family and hold a White Castle eating contest which, thanks to the Impossible slider, is now open to vegetarians!

It’s been a fantastic year. Thank you for being with us throughout 2018, we look forward to even bigger and better things in 2019.

Happy New Year!

Be kind.
-Chris

In the 12/28/2018 edition:

Burritos by Air Highlight Noisy Headaches Associated with Drone Delivery

By Chris Albrecht on Dec 28, 2018 08:08 am
There was a lot of chatter about drones this past year: Uber Eats is accelerating its drone ambitions, Zomato acquired a drone company in India, Amazon got a patent for in-flight drone recharging. There was so much activity that my colleague, Jenn Marston predicted that 2019 will be a big year for delivery by drones. […]

Big Food Has Big Plans for Foodtech Accelerators in 2019

By Jennifer Marston on Dec 27, 2018 01:39 pm
Just a little less than a year ago, we highlighted what was then a new trend the foodtech space: major CPGs launching food accelerators geared towards emerging brands. From Chobani to General Mills to Kraft-Heinz, it seemed Big Food had an appetite for assisting younger, trendier, and often healthier brands to grow in 2018. Some […]

Video: Bellwether Cuts Out the Coffee Roasting Middleman

By Catherine Lamb on Dec 27, 2018 09:00 am
“A lot of people don’t realize just how big coffee is,” said Nathan Gilliland, CEO of Bellwether Coffee at the 2018 Smart Kitchen Summit. Seriously, though: according to him, coffee is the most consumed beverage in the U.S., with people drinking more cups of joe than bottles of water, wine, and beer combined. Not only are […]

My Whole Family Tried the Impossible Slider from White Castle (and Loved It)

By Catherine Lamb on Dec 27, 2018 06:00 am
My family has a… rather unique Christmas tradition. For Christmas Eve lunch, when the 15-odd crew of us gather at my grandparents’ home outside of Cincinnati, OH, we have a White Castle slider eating competition. The record: twenty-one. (Blegh.) As a vegetarian I usually have to abstain from this tradition. But this year, oh this year, […]

What Amazon Did (and Didn’t) Mention in its Holiday Sales Press Release

By Chris Albrecht on Dec 26, 2018 11:00 am
With Christmas now over it’s time for the annual releasing of the vague holiday sales stats from Amazon! This year, Bezos’ behemoth did not disappoint and shared with us a press announcement filled with unspecific terms like “record breaking” and “millions more.” As we said back in November, though these puff pieces from Amazon are […]

Spinn Raises $3 Million As It Eyes Production Of Long-Delayed Coffee Machine

By Michael Wolf on Dec 26, 2018 09:00 am
Spinn, the grind and brew centrifugal coffee machine that is nearly two years past its original ship date, has raised an additional $3 million in funding that it plans to use to ramp up production of its coffee maker. The funding announcement came as part of an update to early buyers via the company’s community […]

Delivery in 2019 Will Be About Ghost Kitchens, Drones, and Boone, North Carolina

By Jennifer Marston on Dec 26, 2018 06:00 am
The food delivery craze will normalize at some point, but not soon. Right now, it’s a segment projected to be worth $365 billion by 2013, and even companies with inherently undeliverable foods are delivering. All of which is to say, food delivery holds a well-earned spot on the list of 2019 hot topics. Major delivery […]

2019 Will Be a Breakthrough Year for Food Robots

By Chris Albrecht on Dec 25, 2018 06:00 am
Right now the year 2019 is still (slightly) in the future, but 2019 will also be a year where we start to feel like we’re living in the future. The reason for that can be summed up in one word: ROBOTS. The food robots are coming and while they won’t become ubiquitous next year, 2019 […]

All_EBT Allows Those Underbanked to Participate in (Some) Cashless Retail

By Chris Albrecht on Dec 24, 2018 12:00 pm
The number of Amazon Go stores are set to explode over the coming years, and while the grab-and-go convenience stores are a marvel of modern technology, they also raise thorny ethical issues surrounding cashless retail. You can only use Amazon Go if you have an Amazon account, and to get an Amazon account you need […]

Whirlpool Awarded Comprehensive Patent For Kitchen-Centric Computer Vision System

By Michael Wolf on Dec 24, 2018 10:00 am
Over the past couple years, there’s been what can only be described as an intellectual property land grab in the world of computer vision as Google, Amazon and Microsoft file more patents in an effort to establish foundations from which to launch an innumerable amount of AI-driven products and services over the next decade or more. […]

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