As the catalyst for industrywide disruptions, the pandemic has proven that, once again, necessity is the mother of invention. Labor-saving automation and robotics, personalized in-app experiences, AI-enabled digital menu boards and numerous other tech advances became mission critical as the hunger for contactless convenience and greater operational efficiency intensified.Now that digitally expedited and enhanced experiences have become ingrained behavior, foodservice continues to build out digital solutions, even as the intensity of the pandemic may ease and the industry adapts more nimbly to a new norm explored in a previous post.
Food Tech Startup Lunchbox Feasts on Funding
The $50 million series B funding acquired by digital innovation platform Lunchbox is an example of the growing interest in tech integrations that take contactless speed and convenience to a new level. Lunchbox’s tech toolkit encompasses an end-to-end customer experience, from web and app ordering to loyalty programs to solutions for ghost and virtual kitchens.
As Nabeel Alamgir, CEO, and co-founder of Lunchbox, explained: “We've built a transformative food tech company by creating products designed by restaurateurs for restauranteurs. The pandemic forced restaurants to understand and quickly adapt to new technologies in order to stay afloat.”1
In October 2020, Lunchbox secured $20 million in series A funding to help restaurants build their own ordering experiences without being dependent on third-party delivery services.2 The new round of funding comes on the heels of its acquisition of the online marketplace Spread, which connects restaurants with diners.3
With a coterie of high-powered investors, including executives from DoorDash, Sweetgreen and &pizza, Lunchbox is “definitely becoming the tech solution to beat,” said Nation’s Restaurant News reporter Joanna Fantozzi, who wonders if the new round of funding could lead to the development of an “entirely virtual reality restaurant.”3
Touch-Free and Go: Tech Advances for Contactless Experiences
While a virtual reality restaurant remains to be seen, human-free technology continues to connect with consumers, and major brands continue to tap into its potential. Panera Bread’s new contactless dine-in eliminates any interaction with employees. Customers simply order in-app at the restaurant or en route and receive an email, text or push notification when they can pick up their food at the counter.
To improve order accuracy and upsells and free up employees for other tasks, Checkers Drive-In is integrating voice ordering AI at its drive-thrus nationwide—the largest rollout of such technology to date.4 Developed in partnership with restaurant technology provider Presto, the pilot program “delivered a high level of automation and accuracy with over 98% of drive-thru orders completed with minimal intervention from restaurant employees,” a press release stated.4
At Mondelēz International Foodservice, our chefs are ready to help your foodservice operation optimize its menu mix for a new era. From signature dishes to standout LTOs to creative desserts and beverages, we provide the culinary expertise and brand ingredients to help maximize sales on premises and off. Contact us below with questions or comments, or to learn more about all we can do for your operation during this critical juncture in the industry.
1 Lunchbox, “Lunchbox Raises $50M Series B Funding to Shake Up The Restaurant Industry,”
Cision PR Newswire, February 1, 2022
3 Ha, Anthony, “Lunchbox raises $20M to help restaurants build their own ordering experiences,” TechCrunch+, October 28, 2020
3 Fantozzi, Joanna, “Tech Tracker: Why human-free technology is taking over the restaurant industry,” Nation’s Restaurant News, February 3, 2022
4 Presto, “Checkers & Rally’s and Presto Announce Largest Ever Rollout of Drive-Thru AI Voice Assistant in the Hospitality Industry,” Press Release, January 10, 2022