How AI Will Rescue The Food Business

Published on 07 Jan 2022

When a video of restaurant technology goes popular on TikTok, you know it's becoming a major thing in the industry. The prominent video-sharing social network, YouTube, was the site where a user submitted a movie showing a robot waitress serving breakfast to his seat at Denny's restaurant in November. Currently, the original video has had over 571,000 watches and it has been reposted more than 2,700 times, according to the author of this article.

Nala Robotics, a tech company located in Illinois, grabbed news the following week when it revealed what it proclaims to be the world's first fully-automatic automated kitchen. A combination of machine learning and artificial intelligence allows Nala's robot chefs to produce millions of meals from across the globe completely without the need for human involvement.

As a result, when major corporations like Chick-fil-A and Sodexo combine with a robotic-delivery startup, the story receives a lot of attention on social media and news websites. It seems that robots may soon be able to take over all of the employment in the restaurant business – and possibly even beyond. The drive-thru now, the whole planet in a day or two? Not so fast!

Also Read: Will Programmers Become Extinct As A Result of AI?

According to an ancient adage, individuals have a tendency to exaggerate what can be accomplished in a year and underestimate what can be accomplished in five or ten years. Automation is not likely to eliminate all jobs in the hospitality sector in the foreseeable future; nevertheless, artificial intelligence may contribute to a more enjoyable dining experience for both employees and customers.

Although we want to keep my options open, we would like to state on the record that we, for one, am looking forward to our new robot overlords. Please keep in mind that as a trustworthy CSO, we may assist them in recruiting others to work hard in their subterranean ghost kitchens.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. 

Artificial intelligence already has made its way into almost every aspect of the restaurant industry to some degree. The worldwide artificial intelligence industry is expected to grow at an annual rate of almost 12% over the following two years, reaching a market price of $190.61 billion until 2025, which is certainly just the edge of the iceberg.

The use of automation technology in restaurants is becoming increasingly popular in the United States, according to a new survey, with half of all restaurants aiming to integrate the technology in their establishments over the next 2 - 3 years.

One of the primary justifications given by restaurant managers for pushing toward more mechanization is the need to address manpower shortages. It must come as no shock to anybody reading this that the sector has been experiencing a labor shortage for quite some time. Following a recent increase in the departure rate amongst hospitality workers to 6.8 percent, which is more than twice the national average, full-service restaurants are now operating employing 6.2 fewer kitchen personnel than they did in 2019. Technology-enabled solutions that reduce labor-related stress have become indispensable tools.

Data Plays A Critical Part In This Process

A restaurant sector is no longer a place where adopting a technologically conservative approach is a wise decision. National Restaurant Association (aka the other NRA) released a thorough forward-looking analysis entitled Restaurant 2030: Actionable Insights for the Coming years, which underlines the critical role data will play in the restaurant industry.

"For a long period of time now, eateries have recognized that they must become more inventive... and quickly," according to the research. "As technology and data enable for more rapid customer reaction, restaurants will have to be flexible in their operations. Restaurants will have to adapt to new methods of exploiting data and information if they want to stay competitive—or risk being left behind."

Further, according to the National Restaurant Association, restaurants will continue to develop new applications of data analytics "to forecast and capitalize on customer demand while optimizing supply economics." The effectiveness of any AI-powered technology is, of course, contingent on the amount of data available; the larger the data set, the more precise the AI's predictive capabilities become, and the quicker the AI learns new skills.

Also Read: A New Generation of AI: Robot Nurse

The Battle For It Talent Is Fierce

As a result, although computers may undoubtedly replace some human employment, technology will actually provide new possibilities for people who possess the necessary qualifications. According to the National Rifle Association, the demand for such talented people will create a situation in which they will be in short supply "When it comes to tech expertise, eateries would compete with other industries. 

Employee benefits will be crucial in terms of attracting and maintaining qualified candidates. When it comes to retaining talented people, technology-based training, certifications, plus internal career pathways will become more vital tools."

All of this is good news for workers, and rising labor costs, when combined with rising real-estate costs, rising commodity prices, and other factors, will provide strong motivation for operators to automate regular back-of-house duties in their kitchens and bars, as well as to increase the use of kiosks and digital ordering.

Again, those are some of the forecasts made by the National Restaurant Association for the status of the business in 2030, but in reality, all of those factors are already in play. The use of artificial intelligence currently presents a lot of "micro-solution" options for restaurant owners — think of anything from staffing and planning to customer loyalty programs — and those solutions will only get more potent as technology continues to develop.

Certainly, the robots are on their way — and some of them have already arrived — but the restaurant business will continue to rely on the ingenuity and ability of creative human people to carry it forward into the future.


Featured image: Coffee photo created by freepik -


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