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Beverage Printing Becomes a Trend & The Breadbot Rises After CES Success

We Now Can Officially Call Beverage “Printing” a Trend

While folks often wait to have three of a thing before declaring a trend, I’m gonna go ahead and call it in the case of beverage printing after two. 

And as of last month, we officially had our second startup making a home beverage “printer”, only unlike the Cana which is a Swiss Army Knife make beverage machine, the One Tap, which makes beer instantly by mixing in different flavor and aroma inputs. The printer’s “cartridges” essentially look like small vials, each containing different liquids that can dial up or down on the hoppiness, sweetness and more. 

The One Tap is made by a startup out of Belgium called Bar.on. The company, which raised €.1.8 million last fall, says the One Tap can produce a variety of beer styles such as blond, brown, IPA, and tripel, as well as make high, low, or even no-alcohol beer.

Like the Cana, the company’s pitch centers around sustainability, talking up the potential impact that making drinks at home will have as compared to the carbon-heavy approach of printing liquids in cans and bottles around the country to grocery stores, restaurants, and bars. 

The jury’s still out on how much that will resonate, as well as how the beer will actually taste. The company claims the early recipes have performed well in blind taste tests, but for now, we’ll have to take their word for it as the company still needs to raise more capital before it can build and ship its machines to customers. 

You can read my writeup of the One Tap here. For those interested in going deeper into 3D food printing, we have the full video from last week’s 3D food printing deep dive under our Spoon Plus subscription program. 


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Dispatches from Israel Food Tech Ecosystem: Amir Zaidman, The Kitchen

Last month, The Spoon’s Joy Chen visited the Kitchen Hub at their office in Ashdod, Israel and sat down with Amir Zaidman, Co-Founder and Chief Business Officer of the Kitchen. Prior to co-founding the Kitchen, he spent 10-14 years in business development in medical technology working on both the startup and investing sides. 

They chatted about what the Kitchen does, what sets Israeli startup founders apart, what the ecosystem needs, how precision fermentation is the new software, and what it’ll be like for Israeli customers to try the first cultivated meat product. 

J: Let’s talk about what the Kitchen is and what it does. 

A: First and foremost, we have capital we invest in startups like a seed or pre-seed stage venture capital. We have more money than a typical seed stage venture capital would invest because we are also getting money from the government to invest in those startups. While a typical seed stage fund would not invest $200-0.5M, we can invest closer to $1M in a company. Those companies become portfolio companies and they have access to the facility but it’s also the very close support that the team in the Kitchen is giving the teams in the companies. At least for the first 2-3 years after we invest in them, it’s a very intense relationship. 

J: Would you say the Kitchen is like a venture studio? 

A: Not exactly. For us, venture studio is when we start with a blank page. Then we brainstorm and figure out what we want to do based on needs from the industry, global trends, and where the industry is going. We start scouting for the enabling technologies, science, intellectual property that might be relevant for the project. When we find that, we go into negotiations with universities or research institutes and we go into a licensing agreement to own the license for that technology. Then we go recruit the team and give them equity into the new company that we created that holds the license for the technology. The venture studio model for us is starting from nothing and bringing all of those building blocks together. 

The third thing the Kitchen does is activity in the foodtech community in Israel. 

To reach our full interview with Amir Zaidman, head over to The Spoon. 


Food Robots

Four Years After CES, Breadbot’s Robotic Breadmaker is Dishing Out Loaves at Grocery Stores

For robot startups seeking to make a splash at CES, there are a few options: holding a large press conference, making it weird and creepy, or serving cocktails. However, one method stands out above the rest for drawing in crowds: wafting the aroma of freshly baked bread (aka ‘the Subway method‘).

That’s what the folks behind the Wilkinson Baking Company did back in 2019, and the end result was their robot, the Breadbot, became a sensation that year at the world’s largest tech event. The smell of fresh bread pulled in journalists, tech nerds, and passersby like a tractor beam, garnering the type of press that big budget brands like Samsung would envy.

The small Eastern Washington-based company, co-founded by brothers Randall and Ron Wilkinson, has been working diligently to bring their product to market since then. Their goal was to transition from a working prototype to a production-ready machine suitable for grocery stores.

As part of the transition, the company also looked to find a new CEO. The Wilkinson brothers, both in their late sixties, wanted a CEO that could take the early-stage startup from a small LLC with a big idea to one that was mature enough to raise funding and bring the first product to market. Paul Rhynard, a former strategy consultant for McKinsey who also had experience raising capital as Chief Strategy Officer for Russell Investments, stepped in for Randall in April of last year and has since helped raise a seed round of $3 million last summer to fund the build-out of the company’s first production run of robots.

To read the full story on how the Breadbot is progressing, head on over to The Spoon.


Grocery

Walmart Gains Share in Online Grocery as Shoppers Look for Ways to Combat Inflation

While online grocery shopping continued to grow last year, where people shopped shifted significantly according to a new report from grocery researcher Brick Meets Click.

The new report, which details the egrocery performance for different retail formats, said Walmart was the big winner in 2022 as more and more customers looked for ways to save a buck. According to the report, which broke down the four major formats as supermarkets, Walmart, Target, and Hard Discount (i.e. Aldi and Lidl), Walmart saw its share of online grocery shoppers grow in both low-income and high-income households.

According to Brick Meets Click, households making less than $50 thousand per year were 25% more likely to shop at Walmart than a supermarket, and Walmart’s total share of online grocery in this household category grew by 2.1% vs. a contraction of 1.5% for supermarket’s share. On the high end of the spectrum, Walmart gained ground in households making over $200 thousand annually, expanding its reach into this segment by 2.1%. In contrast, supermarkets saw their reach shrink by 1.2% in 2022 vs. the previous year.

The reason for the shift towards Walmart for both segments was persistent inflation. Lower-income households were driven by what the researcher terms “flight to value,” where they buy products priced via an “everyday low price” pricing model employed at Walmart and hard discounters such as Aldi. And while high-end income households are three times more likely to shop online at a supermarket, the format lost share to Walmart in 2022 as upper-income earners also looked for ways to save on groceries.

Read the full story here on The Spoon.


The Consumer Kitchen

Spoiled Opportunities: How Tupperware Could Have Reinvented Itself Before It Was Too Late

In recent weeks, news reports about the struggles of the housewares brand Tupperware have surfaced.

It’s unfortunate to see such a storied brand on the brink of bankruptcy, but it raises the question: was this avoidable? Could Tupperware have saved itself by embracing new ideas to modernize its brand and products?

We’ll never know for certain, but a household name like Tupperware might have had a chance if it had explored new products and business models a little sooner. Here are a few ideas of how the company could have reinvented itself:

DTC Housewares Rollup

Tupperware could have transitioned to a direct-to-consumer (DTC) model sooner, either natively or through acquisition. Although Tupperware products are available for purchase on its website, the company still largely relies on its direct sales model, which is based on the party plan concept. While some companies can still make this model work (like Thermomix), the Tupperware Party is a relic of the past that does not resonate with modern consumers.

One approach the company could have considered is a brand rollup strategy, similar to what we have seen from Pattern Brands. Pattern has been gradually acquiring successful DTC brands like GIR, Yield, Poketo, and Onsen. Each brand already had its own loyal following, and Pattern was able to achieve operational scale by consolidating back-office, marketing, and distribution. Tupperware could have also considered larger deals with successful social media-driven brands like Caraway.

Read the full story at The Spoon.


Future of Retail

Starbucks Trialing Amazon’s Palm Payment System in the Seattle Market

Starbucks is trialing Amazon’s biometric payment system, Amazon One, in the Seattle market. The system, which allows customers to pay in-store with the scan of a palm, was spotted in a Starbucks north of the company’s Seattle headquarters in Edmonds, Washington.

To sign up to use the system, users can pre-enroll at the Amazon One website or inside Starbucks at the Amazon One kiosk. Since I didn’t already have an Amazon One account, I decided to sign up in the coffee shop. The kiosk prompted me to scan the barcode within the Starbucks app on my phone to identify my Starbucks account and recognize my form of payment. From there, it asked me to hover both my left and right palms above the scanner, one after the other. Once each palm was scanned, I was ready to go. It had taken all of about two minutes to sign up.

Since I was already there, I figured I’d try it out. I got in line and asked the barista for an iced tea. When asked for payment, I hovered my palm above the scanner until it recognized it, and that was that.

Read the full story at The Spoon