The drive to improve operational efficiency has a double benefit: it boosts the bottom line as well as making food production and distribution more environmentally sustainable.
Food tech start-ups are active in this area, developing integrated digital solutions that can manage multiple business functions.
Last month, two innovators catering to the restaurant industry – Paris-based Innovorder and Ireland’s SynergySuite - attracted funding.
According to data from Tracxn, while interest in delivery appears to be cooling somewhat, ongoing investment in the sector was still evident with drone delivery company Manna Aero attracting capital.
Manna claims it is making 3-minute online food delivery a reality using its custom-developed aerospace grade drones. The Dublin-based company’s delivery drones fly at an altitude of 80m and a speed of 80km per hour – delivering within a 2km radius in less than three minutes.
Manna wants to scale-up quickly thanks, in part, to a partnership agreement with Flipdish, an online delivery platform used by restaurants and takeaways. According to Manna, this tie-up will give it access to more than 1,000 restaurants across Ireland.
Last month's biggest fundraising round saw UK meal kit provider Gousto bring home the big bucks.
Investment roundup: July
Recipe kit subscription and grocery delivery
"Perwyn; Business Growth Fund; MMC Ventures; Canaccord Genuity Group; Unilever Ventures
On-the-day deals at bars and restaurants
Online food delivery platform
Digital back-of-house tools for restaurants
Software suite for restaurant chains
Alto Invest; EVOLEM; FJ Labs; Kreaxi; Petit Poucet; Anaxago; INOCAP GESTION
Big bet #1: Gousto
The UK’s best-selling recipe box business, Gousto, secured £30m in new funding. The round was led by private equity firm Perwyn and it takes the company’s total funding to over £100m since it was founded in 2012. Most recently, the company raised £18m in January.
With its focus on automated production and data-science, Gousto is offering consumers the most advanced value proposition in regards to choice, delivery options, short lead times, reduced waste and competitive pricing, according to Perwyn.
Gousto revealed that the additional cash will fund recruitment and the company wants to hire more than 100 tech staff by 2022. The company said it wants to ‘drive’ the UK meal kit sector, which is expected to exceed £1.5bn by 2022.
Timo Boldt, CEO and founder, commented: “We are relishing the next stage in Gousto’s evolution, investing in innovative technology to allow us to offer the most choice, the most varied delivery options, the best quality meals that arrive in the shortest lead time, for the lowest price.”
Perwyn managing partner Andrew Wynn added: “We believe that the company will go from strength to strength by bringing new and innovative ways for consumers to prepare and eat healthy, fresh and delicious meals at home.”
Big bet #2: Innovorder
Paris-based Innovorder raised €10m to speed up the deployment of its solution in Europe.
The company, which was founded in 2014 Jérôme Varnier, Romain Melloul and Olivier Loverde, has developed a software suite for restaurant chains.
The cash will enable it to accelerate deployment of its solution. It plans to recruit 50 people, primarily in research and development, and aims to reach a turnover of €100m in the ‘medium term’.
The Innovorder solution is based around five themes to manage front-of-house workflows: order taking, collection, preparation, loyalty, and management.
In just 24 months of marketing, Innovorder has secured 600 customers operating more than 17,000 outlets worldwide. It already works with foodservice companies including Elior, Sodexo, Compass and Convivio.
"The restaurant industry has undergone a profound transformation in recent years. Chains and large catering groups now need to demonstrate a great agility to adapt to new customer expectations. That's what our solution allows them to do,” explained CEO Varnier.
Big bet #3: SynergySuite
Going back of house but sticking with the digital transition, SynergySuite is a cloud-based restaurant management platform that raised $6m in a Series A round led by VC First Analysis.
The Irish business provides restaurants with insights and tools to optimise food and labour costs.
“Restaurants are dealing with an increasing number of challenges to profitability, and SynergySuite is well positioned to answer the needs of restaurant operations teams,” said First Analysis Managing Director Jim Macdonald.
“Our investment in SynergySuite is rooted in our confidence that they are well positioned to disrupt the industry by providing restaurants with the visibility and automation they need to optimize operations.”