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How we perceive time is kinda funny. We are just days away from ArticulATE, our first-ever food robotics and automation conference, and it feels simultaneously there aren’t enough hours in the day to get everything don and also that it’s going to be so great why do I have to wait so long?
We’ve put together a stellar lineup, and based on the prep calls we’ve had with speakers, this is going to be a revelatory day for anyone in or thinking about food automation. There are basically only one or two tickets left (for real), and if you act quickly, you might be able to snag one. If you can’t make the show (bummer!), we’ll be posting video of the talks afterwards.
In a bit of cosmic synchronicity, there has also been a ton of food robot news this week, helping set the stage for Tuesday’s show. Walmart announced it was greatly expanding its robotic workforce adding shelf-scanning bots to more than 300 locations, and floor-scrubbing bots to more than a thousand locations. Giant Eagle stores are joining the revolution, adding shelf-scanning robots of their own. And we learned that Truebird will be launching five automated micro-cafes in NYC this year.
All these robots, of course will have an impact on human jobs, and that’s a subject we’ll definitely be tackling at ArticulATE. But as my colleague, Jenn Martson reports, we don’t have to despair too much, at least not right away, as the restaurants in the U.S. currently employ 15.3 million workers and expect to add 1.6 million by 2029.
It wasn’t all robot news this week. Uber finally filed its S-1 financial documents as part of its march towards an IPO. We care mostly about Uber Eats here at The Spoon, and the filing showed 15 million Uber Eats users ordered delivery in the last quarter of 2018, Uber Eats did $7.9 billion in gross bookings last year, and the company is definitely expanding more into groceries and ghost kitchens.
While Uber looks ahead to its market debut, Catherine Lamb gave us a glimpse into one possible future for alternate protein. Redefine Meat served 3D printed plant-based “meat” to hungry carnivores in a restaurant last week. According to the company, 3D printing allows it to mimic the fibers of meat as well as the way “fat and water is trapped in the meat matrix.” I’d take the red pill to enjoy that meat matrix.
Elsewhere, more seeds were sown for the future of food tech startups this week as Food-X unveiled the latest cohort for its spring accelerator class. Among the eight companies accepted into the prestigious program were an AI for kitchen voice assistants, mushroom coffee, and food for expectant mothers. Not to be outdone, BIG FOOD co., Nestlé announced it was joining the growing list of CPG companies launching its own food and beverage accelerator.
One thing that is accelerating as I type this is time. ArticulATE is just four. days. away. Ack! There’s so much to do and yet I wish it was tomorrow. Hope to see you at the show, and if I do, please say hi and introduce yourself to myself, Mike Wolf or Catherine!