In the worlds of investing, sports betting and politics, it sometimes pays to be a contrarian. If Thermomix is any indication, that rule also applies to kitchen appliances. The German company, which pioneered the do-everything countertop appliance category, almost always zigs where everyone else zags. From their direct-sales selling channel to their infrequent (every four to five years) product introductions, Thermomix continues to march to the beat of its own drum nearly 60 years after Carl Vorwerk invented his first multifunction appliance in 1961. And now, with this year’s introduction of the newest generation in the TM6, early indications are Thermomix’s success will continue. The TM6 brings Thermomix fully into the future kitchen with native connectivity and a powerful microprocessor, both of which they will need over the next decade as the company looks to attract a new generation of cooks into the Thermomix community.
When California Governor Jerry Brown signed the Homemade Food Operations Act into law in 2018, it opened the door for enterprising amateur cooks along the Golden Coast to start their own businesses doing what they love: cooking at home. DishDivvy jumped on the opportunity, and just like Uber pairs drivers with riders to reimagine local transportation, DishDivvy is already matching hungry eaters with home cooks through their marketplace app. DishDivvy, which followed in the footsteps of Josephine (RIP), prequalifies home cooks, helps them get certified, and handles ordering, payment and can even help arrange for home delivery. While the cottage food marketplace space is extremely nascent, once consumers realize there’s an app for instant-access to good home cooked meals, DishDivvy could be in the pole position in their home state of California.
If you thought creating interesting food and kitchen tech is just for nimble Silicon Valley startups, think again. This January, Whirlpool showed that the big guys can innovate, too, when the appliance behemoth barnstormed CES with new product concepts. An augmented-reality-enabled built-in wall oven was one of the biggest surprises, as it was the first example of any major appliance-maker looking to us AR as part of its interface technology. The other major surprise was an innovative modular oven that allowed consumers to plug-and-play features like steam and a baking stone. Some of the company’s new concepts spin out of WLabs, the company’s incubation hub, while the software stitching much of the company’s future kitchen together is Yummly, which has moved beyond recipe app they acquired to the company’s smart kitchen “operating system.”
One of the biggest problems in food is the sheer amount of it that goes to waste. While companies like Goodr, Copia and a whole host of interesting players are working hard to create modern platforms for businesses to reduce waste, the consumer is still stuck with ziplocks and plastic containers as their primary defense against spoilage. Enter Silo, which combines a vacuum seal storage system with a modern inventory management to create what could help usher home food storage out of its stasis. Throw in Alexa capabilities and reminders, and we think Silo is one to watch when it comes to helping consumers reduce the 40 percent of food they throw out every year.
Sweetgreen operates like a restaurant but thinks more like a tech platform. The Culver City, CA-based salad chain keeps busy sourcing local ingredients while at the same time dabbling with IoT and blockchain, refining it’s mobile app for online orders, and even redesigning some of its physical locations in order to better accommodate the delivery craze. At the same time, the chain continues to assess its business and tech in the context of society’s needs. Case in point: it was one of the first chains to run with cashless business, a model it recently dumped in response to growing concerns about the ethics of that practice. A company willing to change its technology for the sake of making its business available to everyone is definitely one to watch.
Do you agree with our selections? Is there an exciting new startup or food innovation veteran you think should be on the list? Tweet us @TheSpoonTech and use #FoodTech25 to share your thoughts!