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In the immortal words of Bob Dylan: “The times they are a-changin’.” I like to think that he wrote that lyric specifically about the grocery world, which is rapidly transforming thanks to the influence of technology like e-commerce, blockchain, and AI. (Just me?)
But seriously, we’re not the only ones who think so. This week grocery giant Albertsons teamed up with venture capital firm Greycroft to make a $50 million fund intended for investment in the grocery retail sector. Chris Albrecht wrote that this move was “a much needed move for Albertsons to keep up with its high-tech competition.” (*Cough* Amazon, *cough* Walmart, *cough* Kroger.)
Speaking of Kroger, they’re no slouch in the grocery innovation department. In fact, they just launched Kroger Ship, a direct to consumer e-commerce platform geared primarily towards non-perishable stuff like cereal and cleaning supplies. Pair that with Kroger Delivery, its 2-hour delivery partnership with Instacart, plus the chain’s investment in grocery-packing robots and self-driving vehicles, and Kroger just might be the one to watch in the grocery supremacy Battle Royale. Order your popcorn now.
This week Chris Albrecht, our grocery guru, spoke with Trigo Vision, a company using AI and computer vision to help stores recreate Amazon Go’s cashierless shopping experience. He makes the interesting point that tech like this is not on beneficial to the consumer, who gets a super smooth shopping experience, but is also helpful to the store itself, as well as CPG companies looking for data on consumer behavior.
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In other grocery news, Zest Labs is suing Walmart for $2 billion, arguing that the retailer stole their freshness-tracking technology. Walmart calls it Eden Technology, Zest Labs calls it Zest Fresh, but both companies have one goal: reducing food waste along the supply chain and optimizing profit.
In fact, quite a few businesses are working on this noble cause. Apeel Sciences, a company which makes plant-based coating that extends produce freshness, raised a whopping $70 million. All these dollars and cents just go to show that food waste reduction isn’t only good for the environment (and your conscience); it’s also a major moneymaker. Dana Gunders of Next Course, LLC and Raja Ramachandran of Ripe.io will be speaking about this market opportunity at Smart Kitchen Summit in October — you won’t want to miss it.
This week Japanese entity Shojinmeat announced that they had scored a grant from the Shuttleworth Foundation to grow their open source clean meat community. They told the Spoon that they were also preparing to release DIY cultured tissue incubators over the next few weeks — which means that you could (theoretically) soon be growing hamburger on your kitchen counter. We also covered the proposed ban to eliminate corporate cafeterias in San Francisco, and took a look at three ways science is changing our beloved sugar, for the better. Pretty sweet stuff.
Looking for something to listen to on long summer road trips (or just the morning commute? The Smart Kitchen Show is back with an episode featuring Matt Rolandson of Ammunition Group, who spoke to Michael Wolf about the process behind designing smart kitchen products. Give it a listen and subscribe in Apple podcasts while you’re at it.
As you probably know, we’re hard at work for our big event in October, the Smart Kitchen Summit. We have an amazing list of speakers, including celebrity chef extraordinaire Richard Blais, the person who convinced Nathan Myhrvold to investigate 3D food printing and the CEO of one of the world’s biggest appliance makers. These and many more will be at SKS to talk about building businesses in the world of food tech. You will not want to miss this event so get your tickets today! Make sure to take advantage of our early August flash sale for 30% off of tickets.
There will also be a pitch competition with 12 emerging food tech startups — if you think your company is a fit, make sure to apply by August 17th. All startups will get a chance to talk up their company in front of our audience of executives in the food space, and the winner will get a $10,000 non-equity prize. As always, we’d love to hear from you! If you’ve got news, send us a tip, or join our Slack channel.
Finally, our friends at FoodBytes! Are bringing their next-gen food and agriculture pitch competition back to NYC on October 17-18th. If you’ve got an innovative startup, apply to take part in a day-long mentorship intensive and pitch your business to hundreds of corporates, investors and media. Applications close on August 12th — learn more and apply here.
Have a great weekend,
In the 08/03/2018 edition:
By Jennifer Marston on Aug 03, 2018 02:00 pm
Starbucks may have projected slower growth recently, but it looks to be business as usual for the coffee retailer, and that business traversed several industries and a couple continents this week. Most notably, Starbucks is reportedly one of the key backers of a new company, Bakkt, which the Intercontinental Exchange (ICE) created to better integrate
By Catherine Lamb on Aug 03, 2018 11:25 am
Have you ever wanted to roll your vices together to make one uber-vice? No? Well now you can — sort of. Companies are capitalizing on marijuana’s march towards widespread legalization by developing new ways to ingest Mary Jane. One method in particular that’s on the rise is cannabis-infused beverages, from beer to soda.
By Chris Albrecht on Aug 03, 2018 08:05 am
Albertsons and venture capital firm Greycroft announced today the formation of a $50 million fund to invest in emerging companies and technologies in the grocery sector. By partnering with Greycroft, which has funded companies such as Venmo, The Huffington Post and Plated (which Albertsons acquired last year), Albertsons will gain access to cutting-edge startups in the grocery tech sector.
By Chris Albrecht on Aug 02, 2018 03:12 pm
Though companies have come up with various sugar substitutes over time, none have overthrown the king (and those substitutes might create their own problems). If you can’t beat ’em, you may as well use science to get down on the molecular level and join ’em.
By Catherine Lamb on Aug 02, 2018 12:00 pm
Last week DIY cultured meat educational platform Shojinmeat announced on Twitter that it had received a flash grant from the Shuttleworth Foundation. Shojinmeat was nominated for the $5,000 grant by Isha Datar, a Shuttleworth Fellow and the Executive Director of cellular agriculture non-profit New Harvest.
By Chris Albrecht on Aug 02, 2018 10:00 am
Fighting food waste is a big problem with a big business opportunity for the growing number of companies trying to reduce it. Whenever there’s big money to be made, lawsuits are sure to follow. Sure enough, yesterday Zest Labs and its parent company, Ecoark Holdings, sued Walmart for $2 billion over Walmart’s Eden technology.
By Chris Albrecht on Aug 02, 2018 08:15 am
When we talk about Amazon Go-like cashierless stores, the conversation mostly focuses on the shopping experience from the customer’s perspective. The ease with which you can walk into a store, grab what you want — and just walk out. But as Israeli-based startup Trigo Vision points out, there are plenty of benefits for the retailer as well.
By Chris Albrecht on Aug 01, 2018 04:13 pm
Grocery giant Kroger announced today that it has launched Kroger Ship, a direct to consumer e-commerce platform. At launch, Kroger Ship is available in four markets: Cincinnati, Houston, Louisville and Nashville, but the company said it will expand to additional markets over the next few months.
By Chris Albrecht on Aug 01, 2018 02:00 pm
Like a shark smelling blood in the water, the city of San Francisco is looking to clamp down on the free lunches that keep tech workers from spending money in local neighborhoods. San Francisco supervisors floated an ordinance that would forbid employee cafeterias in new corporate construction.