Food Robotics

July 2020

Analytical Report (full version)

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Analytical Report (full version)

Food Robotics
Food Robotics
July 2020

Food Robotics

July 2020

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A new study by J'son & Partners Consulting aimed at analyzing the global market for robotic solutions for cooking and the possibility of creating a comprehensive system able to deliver food to individual geographically remote production facilities based on such solutions. Despite the fact that there are no such "turnkey" End-To-End solutions on the market, the achieved level of development of food robotics technologies allows to assemble such a concept from individual elements that already exist today. This opens a way to a potential transformation of object catering systems towards greater flexibility and efficiency, reduction in the number of personnel involved, and opportunities to radically simplify the logistics supply chain based on the principles of robotic self-organizing systems.


The global market for food robotics and its ecosystem


The food industry nowadays includes quite complex processes like food preparation (or primary processing, that is cleaning, sorting, slicing, packaging), cooking (secondary processing), sorting, packaging, and palletizing. Industrial robots are increasingly integrated to save time and space and improve cleanliness and safety. Food packaging requires a high speed, consistency, and repetitions, so food processing robots almost always outperform humans in terms of efficiency. The development of robotic systems for the food industry made it possible not only to increase productivity but also to the quality standards of food.


Today, the food service robotics segment is in its infancy. The first startups in this area began to appear only in 2014-2017. The volume of sales of professional kitchen service robots (both industrial versions and prototypes) is still small — significantly less than 3000 units (or less than 3% of the total market for service robots).


The main types of robotic solutions implemented in the sphere of public catering are:


- robotic vending machines;


- manipulators that completely or partially replace a person at certain stages of cooking.


The food robotics segment is actively developing. According to forecasts provided by Meticulous Research, the global food robotics market will reach $3.1 billion by 2025, with a CAGR of 12.7%.


Thespoon.tech experts first attempted to structure the global food robotics market. The market can be divided into two parts:


- Companies that directly implement food processing solutions using robotic innovations,


- Logistics/fulfillment of food.


Fig. 1. Ecosystem of the global food robotics market, 2019


Experts identify several conditional segments of food robotics:


1. Kitchen robots, that carry out common kitchen tasks (from cooking to washing dishes), as well as general cleaning of the workplace. As a rule, such robots are anthropomorphic. There are two types of such robots: dishwashers and robot chefs. The latter may have the following functions:


- Evaluating ingredients in accordance with the required parameters of freshness and quality,


- Selecting certain ingredients from the storage to cook a dish,


- Performing various mechanical tasks as part of the cooking process.


Typical modern kitchens are equipped with a variety of electronic devices that can technically qualify as robotic coffee makers, food processors, ovens and dishwashers, etc. These home appliances include many electronic functions, so syncing and managing them can be partially or fully automated. Kitchen robots are able to carry out more complex operations and even use modern household appliances when performing certain tasks.


2. Standalone Storefronts are robotic mobile machines and mini cafes (coffee shops, mini-bakeries, pizzerias, etc.) that make certain dishes, usually of a limited range. Meals and drinks are made without human intervention. Ordering is done via the application or directly through the interactive panel installed in the robocafé or built into the vending machines. These robots do not require serious installation and maintenance.


3. Autonomous Mobile Storefronts actually provide the services of a store on wheels or a mobile store without a seller. This technology significantly saves time for the consumer.


4. Delivery Platforms and Branded Delivery


5. Logistics & Fulfilment. This segment is not directly related to cooking but has an important supporting function. Companies provide robotic fulfillment services to ecosystem partners (storing, accepting orders, processing orders, completing and packaging food, organizing delivery, billing, and processing refunds).


6. Restaurants Using Robots

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, up to 75% of the tasks that people perform in American restaurants and hotels can be automated using currently available technologies.


Fig. 2. Examples of solutions for various segments of the food robotics ecosystem


Advantages of robotic cooking solutions:


- Access to hot food 24/7,


- Compliance with all requirements for cooking a certain dish (excluding the human factor),


- Improving the quality of prepared meals,


- Getting more information about the dish like calories, composition, etc.,


- Fast cooking of a hot dish (vending machines),


- The ability to analyze the meals and adjust the menu,


- Replacement of dangerous and monotonous stages of cooking,


- Increasing the speed of customer service at public catering facilities,


- Reducing the number of staff in catering facilities,


- Solutions that use artificial intelligence are capable of self-learning and improving their skills and abilities.


Disadvantages of robotic cooking solutions:


- The high cost of such solutions,


- Lack of long-term operating experience, which can lead to technological breakdowns and additional financial costs,


- Availability of specially trained personnel for maintenance of food robots,


- A limited number of dishes and recipes,


- They require developed infrastructure – electricity and water supply, Internet connection, etc.


- Lack of legal industry documents regarding the use of robots in the field of public catering.


The current stage of maturity and development prospects in Russia and the world as a whole


Today, the only really working and popular segment of food robotics in the world is robotic vending machines, which cook a certain dish in various variations, such as salads, vitamin drinks (smoothies), hot noodles, etc. Other solutions, such as fully robotic kitchens or robotic arms that replace people at routine and dangerous stages of the cooking process, are currently being tested and used point-by-point in a very limited number of public catering locations.


According to analysts, most public catering outlets abroad are in no hurry to implement robotic solutions for two main reasons:


- high-quality software and hardware cost too much,


- so far, customer requests regarding the quality of dishes do not allow us to use inexpensive robot chefs.


Russia is lagging behind the global trends in implementing robots in general and in the field of cooking in particular. In open sources, no solutions were found, except for some developments by GBL Robotics, such as a robotic cafe called Monti and Robot Pizza. Moreover, Monti cafe operates in several shopping centers in Moscow, and one cafe was sold in the United States. Robot Pizza is at the prototype stage and is not commercially implemented.


Another barrier to the introduction of robotic solutions in Russian public catering enterprises may be the lack of certification for equipment that is in direct contact with food, in accordance with the technical regulation of the Customs Union TR CU 010/2011 "On the safety of machinery and equipment".


Nevertheless, the rapid growth of service robotics and the reduction of robot production costs, which in turn will lead to an increase in demand, will be the main drivers of the rapid development of this market segment.


The possibility to implement the concept of robotic power supply for remote objects


There are some features of organizing a catering system that makes this activity relatively unique. This uniqueness affects all decisions made in matters of production and service. Here are some of such features:


- Demand for food occurs during peak hours — breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Between these peaks, there is a significant decline in demand.


- Demand for food can vary depending on various factors, so the production process must be promptly changed in such cases.


- Food production and maintenance are labor-intensive processes.


- Both skilled and unskilled labor is required.


- Food spoils quickly and requires proper handling before, during, and after cooking.


- The menu changes daily, so the production process changes daily as well.


These features create additional complexity for the employees and the production process in general, make it difficult to staff and increase costs for labor and food. Traditional food service systems have the same problems described above. Therefore, catering outlet owners are looking for ways to reduce or eliminate the impact of these characteristics by using alternative catering systems, including modern robotics.


Different types of catering systems can be combined in order to meet the special needs of catering at remote autonomous facilities. For example, centralized systems perform concentrated production processes that make it possible to scale and reduce costs, and ready-made catering systems where production and service are separated (prepared meals are stored frozen or chilled for subsequent re-thermalization and serving).


At the same time, it is recommended to consider the following stages in order to transform the existing catering services at remote sites:


Stage I. The possibility of implementing a "Collecting and Serving" system with the use of vending technologies.


Currently, this technology has a high degree of maturity, there is a large number of deeply processed dishes for use in vending machines. This will reduce the burden on the staff and expand the menu offered.


Stage II. Organizing a centralized catering system with subsequent logistics with the use of robotic systems — ground, above-water, and/or air.


Taking into account the limitations described above, the use of vending technologies can only partially solve the problem of providing catering services at remote production facilities. Therefore, it is proposed to consider the possibility of organizing centralized catering outlets with the subsequent transformation of the logistics supply system using robotic systems.


Stage III. Introduction of manipulator robotic systems as the most promising technology


The use of manipulators for assisting in cooking cannot currently be implemented on an industrial scale due to the lack of industrial samples with the required functionality. However, this technology is rapidly developing, and in the near future, we can expect the appearance of full-featured solutions. In this case, the previously implemented catering system will receive a significant development boost by improving the quality of food, the speed of cooking, and, accordingly, delivering dishes to the nearest production facilities.


It should also be emphasized that all three stages require the introduction of technologies for long-term food storage (shock freezing and freeze-drying).


The use of manipulators in the kitchen of each production facility at the moment does not seem appropriate, since when using the traditional approach to the delivery of raw food products we will see the same old issues. Therefore, it is more efficient to centralize this function either locally or regionally if there is a cluster of nearby serviced objects. Similarly, in order to reduce costs, but on a much larger scale, vertically integrated companies with multiple branches are now centralizing various corporate functions (electronic document management, lawyers, accounting, etc.).



This information note was prepared by the J'son & Partners Consulting. We work hard to provide factual and prognostic data that fully reflect the situation and available at the time of release. J'son & Partners Consulting reserves the right to revise the data after publication of new official information by individual players. 


Copyright © 2020, J'son & Partners Consulting. The media can use the text, graphics, and data contained in this market review only using a link to the source of information - J'son & Partners Consulting or with an active link to the JSON.TV portal


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Detailed results of the study are presented in the full version of the report: 

 “Food robotics”







2.1.1. Robotic vending machine for cooking healthy food by Company 1

2.1.2. Robotic bakery by Company 2

2.1.3. Autonomous robotic kitchen assistant by Company 3

2.1.4. Robotic cafe Monty 

2.1.5. Pizza Robot by GBL Robotics

2.1.6. Robotic vending machine by Company 4 selling Asian ramen noodles

2.1.7. Robotic smoothie machine by Company 5

2.1.8. Kitchen robot by Company 6

2.1.9. Solutions by Company 7 Ready-made devices Future devices Platform architecture Marketplace data







6.2.1. Main approaches to regulating robotics in the world

6.2.2. Development of legal regulation of robotics in Russia






List of figures

Fig. 1 Classification of robotics

Fig. 2. Sales of professional service robotics in 2014-2021, thousand units

Fig. 3. Volume of sales of professional service robots by type in the largest market segments in 2017, number of units

Fig. 4. Food robotics market in 2019-2025

Fig. 5. Structure of the food robotics market in 2019

Fig. 6. Advantages of using an autonomous store on wheels

Fig. 7. Division of food products by category in Company 1

Fig. 8. Appearance of mobile stores by Company 1

Fig. 9. Self-driving cars for delivery of products by Company 2

Fig. 10. Appearance of autonomous vehicles intended for carrying local cargoes by Company 3

Fig. 11. Delivery robot by Company 4

Fig. 12. Multifunctional robot prototype. Model 3E-C18 by Company 5

Fig. 13. Robot ... on a city street

Fig. 14. Yandex delivery robot prototype 

Fig. 15. Robotic micro-fulfilment center by Company 6

Fig. 16. What tasks can be automated with use of the existing technology, %

Fig. 17. Appearance and technical drawing of a robot by Company 7

Fig. 18. Mini bakery by Company 8

Fig. 19. Autonomous robotic kitchen assistant ... at work

Fig. 20. Technical drawing of the kitchen assistant

Fig. 21. Robocafe Monty

Fig. 22. Pizza Robot by GBL Robotics

Fig. 23. Robotic machine for cooking Asian noodles ... in a Netflix office 

Fig. 24. Robotic smoothie machine by Company  9

Fig. 25. Kitchen robot by Company 10

Fig. 26. Dosimeter-radiometer by Company 11

Fig. 27. Nitrate salt meter by Company 11

Fig. 28. Optical food product tester

Fig. 29. Platform architecture

Fig. 30. Marketplace data

Fig. 31. Technological flow of catering

Fig. 32. Stage of food processing

Fig. 33. Schematic diagram of a traditional public catering system

Fig. 34. Schematic diagram of a centralized public catering system

Fig. 35. Schematic diagram of a ready-made public catering system

Fig. 36. Schematic diagram of a public "Collecting and Serving" catering system


List of tables

Table. 1. Examples of products offered by companies operating in the Standalone Storefronts segment

Table. 2. Characteristics of the robotic vending machine by Company 1

Table. 3. Characteristics of the autonomous (robotic) bakery ... by Company 2

Table. 4. Characteristics of the autonomous robotic kitchen assistant X

Table. 5. Characteristics of the robotic cafe MontyCafe

Table. 6. Characteristics of the Robot Pizza by GBL Robotics

Table. 7. Characteristics of the robotic Asian noodle cooking machine by Company 3

Table. 8. Characteristics of the robotic smoothie machine by Company 4

Table. 9. Characteristics of the kitchen robot by Company 5

Table. 10. Technical characteristics of the X by Company 6

Table. 11. Technical characteristics of the Y by Company 6

Table. 12. Technical characteristics of fast-freezing equipment

Table. 13. Technical characteristics of equipment for freeze-drying

Table. 14. Main documents of the legal framework in the field of public catering