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What do we mean by the term Internet of Food? It refers to the fusion between digital technologies and the food industry, a union that now concern every phase and person involved in this area’s value chain: manufacturers and chefs, restaurant owners and consumers, scientists, IT specialists and, of course, venture capitalists.
The services and products stemming from this union are many and varied. They range from food delivery (the delivery of cooking ingredients and more or less gourmet ready-made meals) to online restaurant reservations, from e-commerce sales of deli foods, fine foods and wine that may be quite impossible to find through traditional sales channels, to big data (the analysis of huge quantities of useful data); from the 3D printing of pasta, chocolate or cakes to robots endowed with artificial intelligence and programmed to replace human in the kitchen or to even serve meals at the table.
Internet of Food, a worldwide phenomenon
The interest of investors, business incubators, venture capital firms, large technical companies and others has grown exponentially in recent years and the Internet of Food has become a worldwide phenomenon: in 2015, more than five billion USD were invested to fund hundreds of deals an international level (source: CbInsights, click on the image to enlarge it).
Just five years ago, David McClure, founder of the business accelerator 500 Startups in S.Francisco, reproached what to his mind was a dozy business sector:
Menus suck. We need less items, more pictures, and [just] a few recommendations. Menus should be online, so they can integrate user data & purchase history to customize selection, offer discounts, and to connect with friends for favorites and referrals / group offers. The market is huge, purchase behavior is frequent, industry incumbents are old, slow, and easily disrupted. Everyone eats, everyone is online; what the hell are we waiting for?
What McClure pointed out was that the world’s most important industry in terms of size – that of food – needed to open up to new trends, and that is exactly what has happened in the subsequent years. The process is still underway and even if the overall investment growth trend seems to have slowed down slightly, one thing is clear to everyone: the Internet of Food is here to stay.
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