My dad’s super power is writing thank you notes. He never misses sending one. Ever. So it is with the spirit of Pappy Albrecht that I am transforming this week’s newsletter into a big, wet, sloppy thank you to Tokyo for all the great food tech times The Spoon had there last week.
The first thank you goes out to our partner company, SIGMAXYZ, which hosted us and put on the Smart Kitchen Summit: Japan conference. Much like our upcoming SKS: North America show in Seattle (get your tickets now!), the Japan summit featured two days packed with tremendous talks, presentations and demonstrations.
What SKS: Japan highlighted more than anything is that the foodtech community is a global one that is still enthusiastically innovating, pushing boundaries and thinking big. I mean, there was a TV in a plate, and not one but two different roadmaps for feeding people in space, along with a talk on teleporting sushi, for goodness’ sake.
The second thank you goes out to the city of Tokyo itself, which provided seemingly endless opportunities for eating well. I don’t think any member of The Spoon team had a bad meal while there. Whether it was grabbing (many) egg salad sandwiches at the 7-11, enjoying a delicious pasta meal while listening to vinyl in a record cafe, or slurping up ramen noodles in some non-descript restaurant, I learned that you don’t need high-tech for haute cuisine.
Finally, one last thanks goes out a little closer to home. While Mike, Catherine and myself were in Tokyo, Jenn Marston did the real hard work of keeping the site up and running with fresh content. Thank you, Jenn!
Check out some of the best of what we saw at SKS Japan right here.
Hazel Technologies Raises $13 Million
Food waste was not a problem for us during our trip. It’s safe to say we ate everything we were given. Gladly. However, food waste remains a huge problem around the world.
Thankfully there are a number of startups tackling the issue head-on through a number of different tactics. One way we’re seeing more of lately is extending the life of food itself. Hazel Technologies announced a $13 million Series B round of funding yesterday for its take on food waste. Here’s Jenn explaining their method:
The USDA-funded company makes packaging inserts in the form of sachets with 1-MCP technology that get placed in boxes of bulk produce at harvest time. The sachets (see image above) are biodegradable, 3.5cm packets that can be tossed amid the produce and emit a vapor that reduces the respiration rate of produce and increases resistance to the plant hormone ethylene. Doing so slows the decay of produce, increasing its shelf life of fruits and vegetables.
Deliveroo to a Restaurant’s Rescoo
Finally, in a move that sounds straight out of reality TV, UK-based food delivery service Deliveroo launched a “Restaurant Rescue Team” last week.
It is basically what it sounds like: Deliveroo will identify dead or near-dead restaurants on its platform and send out a (presumably peppy and pretty) squad of staffers to offer them a ghost kitchen within the Deliveroo Editions program, as well as helping out with branding, menu development and pricing support.
It’s a smart idea, and one assumes Deliveroo will use their data to identify restaurants that could actually make them money, so it’s not a huge risk for the company.
Soon your Deliveroo-delivered meals may include made-for-TV uplifting stories with a side of joyful tears.