Success in the foodservice future will be contingent upon our ability to adapt to these emerging technologies and capitalise on the new opportunities they offer and avoid mistakes.
This challenge forms the cornerstone of the Future in Foodservice Seminar, as Rod Fowler of FI Foresight explains:
“In our market research activities we are constantly picking up on the current and emerging trends and forecasting for the short to medium term, so we thought it would be quite exciting to look a little further ahead in time and discover what’s lying just around the corner for our industry.
“There’s so much technological change on the horizon that can offer huge benefits for foodservice operators, suppliers and distributors alike.” Rod emphasises that the aim of the Seminar is to ensure foodservice industry professionals can be better prepared to proactively identify new opportunities while also avoiding potential threats.
“We hope everyone will find the Seminar an informative and enlightening experience and of course it also presents the opportunity to do a little networking in a comparatively relaxed atmosphere,” he adds.
Keynote speaker for the Seminar is renowned business futurist and innovation expert Craig Rispin – “he’s a very well known speaker, a very clever guy and he uses examples from all over the world to show how you can capitalise on new technology to drive profitability,” Rod says by way of introduction.
“Typically when people hear Craig speak, they want to take a deeper look at certain technologies and opportunities as their eyes are opened to the possibilities these present.”
Craig himself is eagerly looking forward to engaging with industry professionals at the Seminar – he’ll be taking questions after his presentation and will also make himself available for further one-on-one discussion at its conclusion.
“People always come up to me after a presentation and often it’s because they are concerned about the ramifications of technological change,” Craig explains. “They might be envisaging widespread disruption and thinking this is not going to be helpful to them.”
Craig likes to turn that mindset on its head – “I tell them that rather than worrying that automation is going to take jobs, in fact it’s going to create more jobs. It’s all about your mindset – every trend in the world is either an opportunity or a threat, depending on how you look at it.”
While acknowledging the exponential rate of technological change, Craig’s focus is squarely on the opportunities it can present. “Everyone’s heard the robots are coming and it’s true. Right now we have robots which you can hire for about $22 an hour and they can cook the perfect burger – they know which patties are raw, which are cooked, when to add the cheese and so on. Then there’s the Starship robots which roll along on six wheels and can deliver foods, complemented by flying drones.” The opportunities for food distribution and delivery are remarkable, especially when you factor in the exponential development rate and see just how quickly these are likely to be adapted to suit particular applications.
Craig points out Artificial Intelligence (AI) is another area set to impact foodservice. “IBM’s Watson has already teamed up with a well known food website to develop recipes and that’s only one of many potential applications for AI. The day is coming when it will be used in staff scheduling and shift planning – staff can call in and advise their availability, and rather than management planning rosters and schedules they’ll be able to leave it to the AI. This is already happening in hospitals with nursing shifts, so how long before it’s adopted in the foodservice sector?”
Synthetic biology, enabling the creation of chemically synthesized foods, is now a reality and has huge potential in tackling famine as well as offering significant commercial opportunities.
“These are just three examples of big things that are going to change foodservice for the future,” Craig points out. “And this is just the beginning.”
For more details of what’s to come, be sure to book your seat for the FI Foresight ‘Future in Foodservice’ Seminar so you can catch Craig’s presentation in full.