What a month! This January I’ve been hopping around from event to event, stopping briefly at home to pack fresh socks and water my plants. First up was CES, the gigantic, robot-filled wonderland (check out The Spoon and our YouTube page for exclusive video content and interviews). Next, I flew south to San Francisco for the Winter Fancy Food show.
Though strolling up and down the rows of vendors armed with samples of everything from pickle juices to CBD chocolates was certainly a dream, my favorite area of the show was the “What’s Next in Food?” exhibit. That’s where I got to meet companies who are trying to find new ways to feed the world in an ethical, environmentally sustainable way. Like Clara Foods, which is using cellular agriculture to make cultured egg whites, or Farm from a Box, which is, well, a company that lets communities grow a 2-acre farm from a single box. It’s nice to leave a conference not only tired and full of cheese samples, but also feeling inspired.
Before heading back to Seattle, I stopped by the inaugural Alternative Protein Show in San Francisco to see what sort of products and manufacturing technologies are going to change the way we eat animal products. One thing that wasn’t on the menu was cell-based (or cultured) meat, which has yet to come to market. At the conference I met Dr. Sandhya Sriram, whose startup Shiok Meats is not only making cell-based shellfish, like lobster, shrimp, and crab — they’re also the first cell-based meat company in Southeast Asia. Period. Since the majority of cellular agriculture companies are based in the U.S., Israel, or the U.K., it was really exciting to see this technology expanding to not only new types of meat, but also new areas of the globe.
I left the show for a few minutes to pop by the Creator restaurant and watch their robot make a cheeseburger from start to finish. Here’s a sped-up video if you want to see the burger bot do its thing — it’s pretty amazing.
With burgers on my mind, I went by Carl’s Jr. in downtown SF to take a taste the new Beyond Burger 2.0. While I found that the patty itself was more of a supporting player (like many fast-food burgers are), the new formula is pretty good — my one qualm was the texture, which was a little too chewy for my liking. But the Carl’s Jr. staff told me that the burger was one of their favorite items on the menu, so it’s still a win for alterna-meats.
I’m not the only one smitten with plant-based foods. Chris took a look at his shopping list this week and realized that he is slowly turning vegan(ish), thanks to food tech. It made all of us check our own shopping lists and realize that, huh, we’re all eating more plant-based foods, too. And not just for ethical or environmental reasons, but because they genuinely just taste really good — and are (sometimes) healthier, too.
In other news this week: Delivery continued to expand (we called it), with DoorDash now serving all 50 states and UberEats expanding its Starbucks pilot to more cities. And who better to facilitate all this new food delivery than Starship’s new robotic delivery fleet or Robomart’s new self-driving mobile commerce vehicles?
Speaking of robots, did you hear about Articulate, our food robotics and automation summit in San Francisco on April 16th? We’ll have speakers from Google Brain, Sony, Cafe X, Chowbotics, and much more — Early Bird tickets are on sale now, so get ‘em while they’re hot!
AutoX Eyes Expanded Restaurant Delivery for its Self-Driving Cars
AutoX, the startup that made a splash last year with its self-driving grocery delivery + mobile-commerce solution, expanded into the hot food delivery space, and is now working with 14 restaurants in the San Jose area.
Chowbus Announces a $4M Seed Round for Its Food-Delivery Platform
Chowbus today announced a $4 million seed round for its food-discovery platform. Founded in 2015, the Chicago-based company bills itself as a food-delivery app that lets users “discover authentic, international foods.”
All_EBT Offers New Tool to Help SNAP Recipients Budget Purchases
With the government shutdown, the 39 million people on the Supplemental Nutritional Assistance Program (SNAP, also known as food stamps) got their money early this month, and have to make it last through February (and maybe March as well). All_EBT has a new tool to help SNAP recipients budget their purchases.
What’s Next In Food? CBD, Cultured Eggs, Food Waste Cookies and More
A tour through what caught our eye at the What’s Next in Food exhibit in the Winter Fancy Food Show, from upcycled cookies to egg whites grown in bioreactors to a farm in a box.
Beleaguered Food Delivery Service Munchery Shuts Down
Munchery, a food delivery service that had raised $125 million in venture capital, announced to its customers via email yesterday that it was ceasing operations.
Starship Launches Robot Food Delivery Fleet at George Mason University
A fleet of more than 25 mini delivery robots from Starship Technologies are now delivering food to students at George Mason University in Fairfax, VA, which, Starship says, is “the largest implementation of autonomous robot food delivery services
Starbucks Expands Uber Eats Delivery Pilot Across U.S.
Starbucks is expanding the delivery pilot program it runs in Miami with Uber Eats to other U.S. cities. It’s now available in San Francisco, and will move to NYC, DC, Boston, Chicago, and Los Angeles over the next few weeks.
Goodr Launched Free “Pop-Up Grocery” Store Featuring Surplus Food for MLK Day
In anticipation for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Atlanta-based startup Goodr has partnered with the Atlanta Hawks to launch a “Pop-Up Grocery” event featuring surplus food from local grocery stores.
A Rough Guide to Ghost Kitchens, According to Chowly CEO Sterling Douglass
Sterling Douglass, CEO of the restaurant tech company Chowly, thinks that “everyone” should be using ghost kitchens. Here, he explains the different types and looks into how they will shape the future of restaurants.
Food Tech is Gradually Turning Me Vegan
Head editor Chris Albrecht looked at his shopping list and realized that, slowly but surely, he was eating more and more plant-based foods. The reason? Food tech.