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AI in the Food Service Sector



Food is changing, and not only in terms of what we eat, but how we are consuming it. Nowadays, people are choosing other means of getting their food than the, more often than not, cheaper alternative of buying groceries. So why are people today turning to a more expensive way of getting their food. Throughout the years, AI has transformed countless industries, and the food services sector is no different. The very fundamental things we have all come to expect from the restaurant experience are evolving. Orders can now be taken by electronic kiosks and voice commands from smart home systems, food recommendations are now being made by historical data, and some are even opting out of going out altogether and instead choose to have their favourite dishes brought directly to their homes. When it comes to the quality of ingredients, AI can aid in keeping them in ideal conditions ensuring they are safe to consume and remain tasting their best.

Both restaurant customers and team members can feel the frustrations associated with busy periods throughout the day. Long lines and slow service due to a large number of orders can significantly decrease the overall customer experience. New kiosk technology that takes advantage of artificial intelligence can alleviate most of this stress by allowing multiple customers to order at once at different terminals. The orders are then evaluated and sorted into the most efficient sequence of completion to shorten the overall time it takes to finish putting together all the orders. Some restaurants are also adopting even more advanced forms of kiosks that use facial recognition to identify regular customers and bring up the option to purchase their usual order. This kind of kiosk can have frequent customers ordering their meal in a matter of seconds. Digital kiosks also give you complete control over all aspects of your order down to the last ingredient giving you the capability to add or remove ingredients at will.

Ordering is made even more simple through voice control ordering. Voice-activated smart home hubs such as the Amazon Echo and Google Home, offer voice ordering for select restaurants that allow you to submit your entire order from the comfort of your home for either pick-up or delivery.

Using historical data from both the public and specific customers, technologies such as the kiosks mentioned above and mobile apps such as the McDonalds and Starbucks apps can make recommendations for new food and beverages to try. These kinds of technology view previous orders you’ve made as well as popular items that other customers order and give you recommendations based on their ingredients. Special offers and coupons can also be given and recommended by popular items as well as the time of year, holidays or local events.

On the subject of mobile apps, many diners are opting out of the restaurant experience altogether. Avoiding the queues and the long waits in a crowded space and instead choosing to order their food from a variety of mobile applications such as Skip the Dishes and Uber Eats and waiting for their food to arrive without ever leaving the house. These services allow you to make a special request for either the preparation of the food and/or the specifications of delivery. For those with anxious pets, users can ask the delivery driver to meet them on their driveway to keep them away from the door. With payment methods kept directly within the app, when the food arrives, you don’t even have to pay at the door anymore. The main cost of your meal, the delivery fee and the tip are all processed when you submit your order.

Not only do restaurants need their food tasting its best, but they clearly need it to be safe to eat as well. Countless technologies exist to help restaurant owners manage their inventory to keep it as fresh and safe as possible. Smart thermometers can assist in keeping temperature-sensitive ingredients in their ideal conditions, alerting you if your coolers and/or freezers ever leave the safe zones allowing you to take action before it’s too late. New video surveillance and object recognition software is capable of tracking the physical appearance of your food, watching for changes that could be linked to the food becoming unsafe to eat such as mould growth and discolouration.

In an industry with such time and condition sensitive inventory, technology to help manage it and keep it at its best quality is a must. With safety, taste and customer experience in mind, the implementation of AI has the ability to drastically improve efficiency and keep your customers happy. AI has the versatility to be used in almost every aspect of a restaurant. Customers can now have their orders taken more efficiently by automated kiosks that not only optimize the way in which the orders are fulfilled but also allow the customer to have more control over the specifications of their meal. Historical data gives restaurants the ability to anticipate the kinds of food people may be ordered and gives customers more of what they love and recommendations for new things they may want to try. Countless examples of mobile apps for food delivery are in use today giving users a wide range of food options and deals for restaurants all over their city. They can enjoy the meals they know and love or explore different options all from the comfort of their homes. AI’s effect on the world today is ever-growing, and it’s evident that with more and more people preparing less food themselves, restaurants are going to need to find ways to optimize their operations.

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