Most people know Cargill as a massive food conglomerate with a huge share of the total food commodity market. But considerably fewer people know the same company responsible for about 25% of total US grain exports has a digital business unit that incubates technology products more akin to something you might see from a Silicon Vally startup.
One of those products on display at CES 2023 was Chekt, a smart food locker system for restaurants, stadiums, and other food service-centric businesses. The Chekt system, which you can see demoed in the video below, automates the handoff of prepared food to customers or delivery drivers. The lockers can be configured to be hot and cold in the same unit, allowing a restaurant or other food service business to hand off a warm meal and cold drink to consumers from the same locker.
The way the lockers work is customers can order on their phone from their table or seat, and they receive a text when the food is ready. The customer then heads to the locker, responds to the text to notify Chekt they are ready for pick up, and the locker unlocks.
According to Cargill digital business lead Eric Parkin, the Chekt system is deployed at the Pittsburgh Penguins stadium and at restaurants on the US west coast. Parkin says that restaurants like Buckhorn BBQ are seeing as many as 70 orders a day going through the locker system for customer pick-up or delivery drivers.
Cargill’s Chekt system is just one of many smart locker systems for food pickup that have appeared over the last couple of years. As the pandemic accelerated the transition towards delivery and contactless pickup, companies like Cargill, GRUBBR, Minnow, and others have stepped in to fill a need for restaurants and others to automate the final handoff of food to their customers.
My guess is that over time we’ll see nearly every stadium in the US deploy similar solutions, where lines can get long, and people are in a hurry to get back to their seats. Larger restaurant chains that depend heavily on pickup orders and delivery will also likely make these a fixture, and there’s a good chance they’ll become commonplace in universities and large multifamily residences.