Canada Grocer Testing In-Store Robotic Micro-fulfillment

Chris Albrecht wrote . . . . . . . . .

Loblaws, Canada’s largest grocery chain, announced this week that it was piloting Takeoff Technologies‘ robot-powered micro-fulfillment center in one of its stores. Supermarket News reports that the two companies have already started building out the center in Toronto and will fulfill orders for Lawlaws’ PC Express pickup service next year.

Typically built into the back of a retailer, Takeoff’s automated fulfillment centers use a series of totes, rails and conveyors to shuttle food items around. Once an online grocery order comes in, totes automatically bring the items to a human who assembles them into bags that go out to the car. According to Supermarket News, Takeoff’s system can gather grocery orders of 60 items in less than five minutes.

Ideally, micro-fulfillment technology like Takeoff’s allows retailers to convert un- or little-used space into more productive and revenue-generating areas for a store while creating a faster, more convenient online grocery shopping experience for customers. Online grocery shopping is still a small percentage of overall grocery spending, but it’s growing, and automated fulfillment (and the holidays!) could help spur more food shopping from home.

This new partnership expands Takeoff’s reach across North America and into Canada and adds another high profile partner for the startup. Here in the U.S., Takeoff already has a number of pilots going on with Sedano’s, Albertsons, Ahold Delhaize and Wakefern.

While Takeoff has a few partnerships it can point to, there are plenty of automated fulfillment players getting into the game or trying out different approaches to fulfillment. Alert Innovation also builds in-store fulfillment and has partnered with Walmart on a pilot location. Fabric just raised $110 million and moved its headquarters to the U.S. to expand its robotic fulfillment presence here. And instead of inside its stores, Kroger is building 20 standalone robot-powered smart warehouses domestically.

Despite all this, automated fulfillment is still in the early days of testing, and it remains to be seen if and how it will impact a retailer’s bottom line. As more of these systems come online in 2020, we’ll definitely see if they fulfill their robotic promise.

Source: The Spoon

In Pictures: Home-cooked Chicken Breast Dishes

What’s for Dinner?

Home-cooked Japanese-style Dinner

The Menu

Chawanmushi (Shiitake, Asparagus and Squid) and Salad (Wakame and Cucumber)

Tempura of Eggplant, Burdock, Shiitake, Asparagus and Squid

Pear (ラ・フランス)

At Museums Around the World, a Focus on Food

Vivian Song wrote . . . . . . . . .

The city of Lyon, France, is hoping to cement its reputation as the cradle of French gastronomy with the opening of a new cultural gastronomy center that is being described as the first of its kind in France, and the largest of its kind in the world.

Six years in the making, the Cité Internationale de la Gastronomie de Lyon (International City of Gastronomy) opened its doors last month inside the Grand Hôtel-Dieu, a former hospital that dates back to the 12th century.

Spanning four floors and 43,055 square feet, the center, which cost €20 million (around $22 million), is designed to be an interactive and sensorial experience for visitors: The smell of chicken bubbling away in a casserole pot wafts through the space dedicated to traditional Lyonnaise cuisine, while a virtual exhibit recreates the sights and sounds of an open-air farmer’s market.

The center’s opening adds to an already rich gastronomic landscape in Lyon: The city is home to Bocuse d’Or, the real-life “Iron Chef” international cooking competition; bouchons, traditional Lyonnaise restaurants; and the celebrated chef Paul Bocuse, who died last year.

Florent Bonnetain, project director and general manager, said that the culinary center aims to draw on the building’s heritage as a former hospital by exploring the connections between food and nutrition, along with sustainability, economics and international food culture.

“We’re looking at the subject of gastronomy as a whole,” Mr. Bonnetain said. “There are thematic food museums around the world, but here we wanted to take gastronomy and approach it from a cultural and educational point of view.”

Indeed, thematic museums centered around a single food item have been around for decades, be it chocolate, ice cream, French fries or ramen. Then there are the branded food museums from SPAM, Guinness, Coca-Cola or Jell-O. They can tend to be cartoonish or self-promotional, and verge on kitsch.

But in recent years, conversations around food security, climate change and public health have led to more ambitious and thoughtfully curated exhibitions around the world.

After first launching as a mobile exhibition in 2013, the Museum of Food and Drink found a permanent space in a 5,000-square-foot studio in New York City in 2015. It has explored natural and artificial flavors in the food industry, the evolution of Chinese-American restaurants and, next February, will open an exhibition on the contributions of African-American chefs, farmers and producers to food culture.

The executive director, Peter Kim, began pitching the idea in 2012, and said he was met primarily with skepticism and “bewilderment.” But since then, he’s noticed a sea change in the museum’s reception, and the way people think about food, thanks to a confluence of factors: food-related public policies, immigration, media attention, climate change and growing interest inside academia.

“All these things feed into each other and reinforce an understanding of food as being much more than just gustatory experience. Instead, there’s an understanding that when you take a bite of something, you plug into the world every time,” he said.

International media interest also helped the Disgusting Food Museum — which opened last fall as a temporary exhibition in Malmӧ, Sweden — become permanent this January and organize pop-up versions globally. Despite its name, the exhibition is meant less to provoke revulsion, but to challenge people’s notions of what’s edible and what’s not, as one person’s trash, be it maggot-infested cheese or bull testicles, could be another person’s delicacy. Moreover, curators point out that changing our ideas of disgust could help us embrace more environmentally sustainable foods — notably bugs and insects — in the future.

In Europe in recent months, the Museum of Mankind in Paris opened the exhibition “I Eat, Therefore I Am,” exploring the evolutionary, ecological and cultural role of food in civilization, and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London just wrapped up “Food: Bigger than the Plate,” which looked at urban farming, gastronomy, politics and sustainability.

At the Cité, working kitchens, experimental laboratories and spaces for conferences and debates are designed to enrich the visitor experience. The overall concept mirrors Bordeaux’s Cité du Vin, a wine museum which opened in 2016 and explores winemaking throughout civilization and also hosts industry conferences.

“We know that gastronomy is a big tourist attraction for Lyon,” Mr. Bonnetain said. “With the museum, our hope is that visitors will be able to experience gastronomy differently here. We want to be a complementary experience to restaurants in Lyon.”

Source: The New York Times

New Research Reveals Protein Bars Not as Healthy as People Think

A new research report launched today by safefood has revealed that chocolate is the main ingredient in almost 40% of protein bars surveyed, with many also being high in saturated fat and containing added sugar and salt. The research also found that over 1 in 3 people (37%) surveyed think protein bars are “healthy”. When comparing current protein intakes among adults with what’s recommended, both men and women are already consuming more protein than they need from their diet.

The safefood research looked at the nutritional content of 83 high-protein snack foods and drinks available for sale in supermarkets on the island of Ireland. These foods included protein bars, yoghurts, yoghurt-style products and milk drinks. According to industry sources², there was a 498% increase in products launched between 2010 and 2016 with a high-protein claim.

Introducing the research, Dr Catherine Conlon, Director of Human Health & Nutrition, safefood said, “We’ve witnessed a significant and consistent upsurge in the number and variety of foods and drinks for sale which claim to be ‘high-protein’. From bars to milks and yoghurts, high-protein foods have now become mainstream in our supermarkets. When we asked people about protein bars, a third of them thought they were healthy. However, many of these bars are, in reality, highly processed foods with a calorie content similar to that of a bar of chocolate”.

“What’s also evident from dietary data is that men and women are already consuming more than enough protein in their diets and simply don’t need this extra, highly processed protein,” stated Dr Conlon.

Of the 39 protein bars surveyed, 38% listed chocolate as their main ingredient. 77% were high in saturated fat with 79% being a source of salt. The average bar size was 55g with an average price of €2.27 / 1.78 though some bars cost as much as €3.00 / £2.49 each.

“Processed snack foods high in protein need to be combined with fat, sugar or salt in order to make them tasty,” continued Dr Conlon. “People would be better sticking to natural sources of protein in their diet, which tend to be much healthier. And if you need a source of protein as a snack, alternatives like some nuts, a small glass of milk or a yoghurt is the way to go instead of these foods with added chocolate.”

Source: Safefood

Read the full report . . . . .