Tag Archives: Food

Flippy Gets a New Gig at White Castle

The fast food industry has long had a labor problem. It can hard to find restaurant workers, particularly for fast-food chains where the jobs can be long, hot, and greasy. Add in food safety preparation issues for handling the COVID-19 pandemic and the problem grows. One of the more thankless jobs is probably working the fryer. It’s boring, repetitive, and carries a high risk of burns from hot oils.

White Castle, with 365 restaurants in the U.S., is piloting a new solution at a store in Chicago. Coming to the rescue is Flippy, the robot-on-a-rail (ROAR), that will soon be working the fry station. Flippy has a long, articulated arm that glides along an overhead rail to work the fry station, including filling the basket, timing the oil, and removing the fries without burning anyone. Safer food prep can help employees focus more on the customer, and less on production.

Flippy is a product of Miso Robotics in Pasadena, Calif., and is billed as the world’s first autonomous robotic kitchen assistant that can learn from its surroundings. It can work a grill or fryer, cooks perfectly and consistently every time, collaborates with kitchen staff, and is OSHA safety-compliant. The robotic arm isn’t cheap though. Flippy costs between $60,000 – $100,000.

Hungry for fries?

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: Who was worked at a fast-food restaurant? What was the experience like for them?
  2. Show video of Flippy at White Castle: https://youtu.be/5vjf13h2f6o
  3. View videos and more information at Miso Robotics: https://youtu.be/5vjf13h2f6o
  4. Discuss the buying process for organizations. Who would influence the decision-making?
  5. For Flippy the robot food-preparation product, have students work on the actions taken in each of the five steps.
    1. Problem recognition?
    2. Information search?
    3. Evaluative criteria?
    4. Purchase decision?
    5. Post-purchase behavior?
  6. What are key considerations in each step?
  7. Debrief the exercise.

Source:  AdWeek; Forbes; Tech Crunch; other news sources

 

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Meal Kits Rebound

Meal kits have been around for a number of years. When they first launched, the novelty and ease of use quickly drove the subscriptions up. But sales plateaued as competitors proliferated and differentiation between companies was missing. After all, how many meal subscriptions does a household need? The cost of the first sale was high, and competitors all seemed to be trying to reach the same target market. Growth stalled.

But, the coronavirus pandemic is changing the dynamics of the market once again. With more people staying at home, restaurants closed, and fear of the virus in crowded places such as supermarkets, meal kits are primed for a resurgence. According to Nielsen Research, consumer spending on meal kits in April of this year is nearly double the level from the same period a year ago.

Restaurants also are getting in on the action with Panera Break readying a launch of its own make-your-own salad and sandwich kits. It is being joined by other dining chains such as Denny’s, Chick-fil-A, Shake Shack, and others. Doing an Internet search for “meal subscription boxes” brings up dozens of options for meal and snack subscriptions!

Environmental conditions have a big impact.

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Discuss the importance of environmental scanning in marketing.
  2. What are the environmental factors that are impacting the meal kit industry?
  3. How can meal kit companies use this information to retain and grow their customer base?
  4. Divide students into team. Have each team research one of the following meal kit companies, or another of their choosing:

Hello Fresh: https://www.hellofresh.com/

Home Chef: https://www.homechef.com/

Sun Basket: https://sunbasket.com/

Blue Apron: https://www.blueapron.com/

Freshly: https://www.freshly.com/

  1. How are these companies different? How are they similar? What is the value offered by each company?
  2. Have students build a SWOT analysis chart for the company.

Source: Wall Street Journal; other news sources

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Just Walk Out. Amazon’s Cashier-less Grocery Stores

Two years ago Amazon launched its ‘Amazon Go’ convenience stores. It now has 25 stores across the country in San Francisco, Seattle, Chicago, and New York. These stores carry a limited selection of items focused on ready-to-eat meals and snacks. The stores use a ‘just walk out’ technology that allows consumers to pick up an item, place it in their bag, and then just walk out. No scanning or cashiers needed. All a shopper needs is an Amazon account and the Amazon Go app on their mobile device.

Now, Amazon has now expanded the concept into a much larger format called ‘Amazon Go Grocery’ in Seattle. With 10,400 square feet of space, the new Amazon Go Grocery store carries a larger amount of products, including fresh produce, meat, seafood, baker items, and household essential. The store also carries pre-made meals plus beer, wine, and spirits. The ‘just walk out’ technology is the same as Amazon Go, and uses the same app on mobile devices.

ne allows the entire family to shop together. Any item taken will be added to the account of the shopper who entered them. However, Amazon warns shoppers that if they grab an item from a top shelf to help another customer, they will be charged for it.

The stores have employees on-site to greet shoppers, restock shelve, answer questions, and help customers. However, cashier-less stores are coming under scrutiny from advocates and lawmakers who say these stores discriminate against people who do not have credit cards or bank accounts. (Amazon did change its policies to allow customers to pay with cash at its convenience stores and says the same will be true at the grocery store.)

Let’s go get groceries!

Group Activities and Discussion Questions:

  1. Poll students: How much time do they estimate they spend in check-out lines on a store visit?
  2. How does this new concept fit with Amazon’s purchase of Whole Foods?
  3. Information on the stores can be found at: https://www.amazon.com/b?ie=UTF8&node=16008589011
  4. Show video of the new store: https://youtu.be/lTzPpAbjasA
  5. What are the students’ opinions?
  6. Divide students into teams. Have each team list advantages and disadvantages of the new format.
  7. Does this technology have uses in other places?
  8. Does the technology give a competitive advantage to Amazon in the grocery industry?

Source: Associated Press; other news sources

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