Heinz Freestyles Condiments, Cana Shuts Down – TechToday

Cana Shuts Down

Cana, the company which was building an appliance that they claimed could create and customize virtually any beverage, shut down last week, The Spoon has learned.

According to numerous Linkedin posts from previous employees, the company could not secure funding and laid off all of its employees last week. Cana, which had raised $30 million in January last year, promised to have the product ready to ship sometime this year. But despite having a working prototype and brand partners in place, Cana could not raise the “funding necessary to build a production line for manufacturing and shipping devices.”

The news comes just two months after the company brought on none other than Sir Patrick Stewart of Star Trek fame to be a brand ambassador, a hail mary move that didn’t work out.

Like many startups nowadays, Cana found the drastically reshaped funding environment just too difficult to survive. Consumer hardware startups have had a particularly tough time in recent years, and Cana’s climb was made even more difficult given the task of developing and building a consumables production infrastructure.

The Cana vision of a make-anything drink machine always seemed a bit too good to be true, so it’s a bummer we’ll never see if they could have made it work if they had gotten more funding.

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Heinz Introduces REMIX, a Coca-Cola Freestyle for Condiments

We weren’t expecting Heinz to show up with a cool new product this week, but a big company surprises you every now and then. 

No, it’s not MayoChup or Wasabioli, but the Heinz REMIX, a vending-machine-sized sauce dispenser that lets customers create personalized sauce mixes.

The new machine, which the company claims to have developed from concept in just six months, can create up to 200 sauce combinations from a base of sauces that includes ketchup, ranch, Heinz 57 Sauce, and BBQ Sauce. From there, the customers can mix in what the company calls “enhancers, ” including jalapeño, smoky chipotle, buffalo, and mango at varying intensities (low, medium, high).

The product, which is part of the company’s “Away From Home” (AFH) division, will debut later this month at National Restaurant Show.

The product is reminiscent of the Coca-Cola Freestyle, which lets customers create weird combinations of sodas to their heart’s content. However, unlike the Freestyle, it’s unclear how many restaurants are willing to cede floor space to a giant condiment mixer. Sodas are something customers actually pay for, and I’d gone to places just so I could use the Freestyle. So while the REMIX might be a draw for condiment-conscious consumers, restaurants will need to be sure the extra cost of having a REMIX adds enough to the bottom line in recurring or new customers to make it worth it.

But who knows, maybe all those RanchUp or Mango 57 nerds out have been waiting for the moment when they can finally express themselves.

Dispatches from Israel Food Tech Ecosystem: Anat Natan, CEO and Cofounder of Anina

The Spoon’s Joy Chen recently caught up with Anat Natan, the co-founder and CEO of Anina. Anina is an Israeli startup that takes imperfect food and transforms it into ready-made meals in pods. Food waste has significant economic and environmental implications, and it is estimated that the greenhouse gas emissions from food contribute to 7% of the overall greenhouse gasses emitted globally. They talked about the technology that powers Anina, operating in markets outside of Israel, and what she believes sets Israeli founders apart. 

J: Talk to me about the technology behind Anina. 

A: We create these laminates, these vegetable sheets, and we try to incorporate as much food waste as possible. The laminate is strong but flexible. We try to take the ugly produce, and we try to incorporate all this food waste in our production process because we care about all the factors of the produce outside of how it looks. A third of the produce in the US goes to waste due to aesthetic reasons. I think there’s a catch-22. As consumers, we want to be more and more sustainable, consume more sustainable brands, and support sustainable production. But on the other hand, we become, as consumers, more concerned about what’s perfect. 

After we create these laminates, we mold them, we fill them, and we close them. Our technology is protected IP, and this IP contains the process from fresh produce to the pod, including the laminate. We’re registering it in the US, the EU, Israel, and Singapore. 

J: Did you choose those markets because those will be your first entry points? 

A: Our go-to market is divided into two approaches. With the US, our brand will have partners to get to the market efficiently and reach customers in the right and creative way. With the rest of the world, we are going to use a B2B approach, which is a joint venture. We bring to the table what we know how to do, which is the production process and R&D. And everybody does what they know how to do best. The partners know the market, the consumers, and the supply chain. We start by creating pilots, and we’re going to conduct pilots in Israel, Spain, Andorra, and Singapore to understand the right way to approach the market. And after that, we will create a long-term collaboration with them. 

J: What type of consumer testing have you done so far? 

A: So much. We have conducted external research in Israel, Spain, in Italy (with Barilla) and very in-depth design thinking research. In the US, we have done a market analysis that organizes qualitative, quantitative, demographics, and surveys. Every time we ask the question, do you understand what it is? Do you know how to use it? We give the product to people to try at home and then answer surveys. Anina was established in June 2020, and I’ve been conducting research since August 2020 because I believe that innovation needs to go hand in hand with understanding how to approach the consumer. Obviously, they cannot imagine what they don’t have in front of them. But you have to evaluate what they think to make sure that you don’t bring an alien to them eventually. 

Read our full interview with Anat here. 

Restaurant Tech

Two Years After Buying Spyce, Sweetgreen Launches Infinite Kitchen Robotic Restaurant

Last week, Sweetgreen opened the company’s first robotic restaurant in Naperville, Ill, a suburb of Chicago.

The new automated restaurant, which the company calls Infinite Kitchen, comes almost two years after the company acquired Spyce Kitchen, a startup building automated robotic makelines.

The Infinite Kitchen name is not new; Spyce first used the name when it launched its second-generation robotic kitchen platform in November 2020 and, like the new Sweetgreen Infinite Kitchen, the system was visually reminiscent of the Creator burger makeline. The system’s conveyor belt runs under ingredient dispensers that drop customized mixes of fresh ingredients into bowls. 

In the video and the press release, Sweetgreen takes pains to make clear that while it sees automation as a way to add efficiency to operations and enhance the customer experience, they are not doing away with humans as part of the Sweetgreen experience.

“Every meal begins with human hands,” says the video’s narrator, “from our local farmers to our team members, all there to guide you through the process.”

With the Infinite Kitchen, Sweetgreen has also rethought the customer process flow, integrating digital touchpoints (including self-service kiosks similar to those from Spyce).

You can read about the launch of Sweetgreen’s Infinite Kitchen here.


Pairwise Rolls Out First CRISPR-Edited Produce to U.S. Restaurants

Pairwise, a startup specializing in developing gene-edited produce, today announced the launch of its first product, a CRISPR-developed mustard green. The new product, the Conscious Greens Purple Power Baby Greens Blend, will launch into the restaurant/food service channel in partnership with the food service specialist Performance Food Group.

The launch of gene-edited produce by Pairwise comes almost three years after the company got the sign-off from the USDA for its gene-edited mustard green. Mustard greens aren’t usually found on menus due to their pungent smell and bitter taste, but with changes engineered by CRISPR, Pairwise hopes to create a nutritious alternative to kale and Brussels sprouts that also tastes good.

While the Conscious Foods blend with Pairwise’s mustard greens will be the first publicly announced CRISPR-edited produce available in the US market, the product follows the launch of gene-edited tomatoes in Japan in late 2021. That product was produced by Sanatech Seed, which used CRISPR to increase the amount of γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) in the tomatoes, a supplement that researchers claim can reduce blood pressure and improve moods.

The release of the Sanatech Seed tomatoes came roughly the same time gene-edited fish became commercially available in Japan. In late 2021, Kyoto-based Regional Fish Co., Ltd. started selling genome-edited “Madai” red sea bream and “22-seiki fugu” tiger puffer fish which were edited to grow bigger.

Read the full story here on The Spoon.

Vertical Farming

Plenty’s New Vertical Farm To Produce 4.5M Pounds of Leafy Greens From a Single City Block

Today indoor ag startup Plenty announced what it claims is the world’s most advanced vertical farm. Located in Compton, California, the company says the farm is designed to yield up to 4.5 million pounds of leafy greens annually, occupying just a city block’s worth of space.

Using a highly-automated robotic system in what the company describes as a 3D vertical design, Plenty claims its patented technology will yield up to 350 times that of a conventional farm. Unlike most other vertical farms that grow produce on flat planes that mimic the field, Plenty’s 3D system uses vertical towers nearly two stories high. Plenty believes that their design architecture makes indoor farming more efficient by allowing them to grow more produce in less space. The company also uses robotics in nearly every step of the process, from planting to harvest

“After investing nearly a decade into research and development, ​​Plenty has cracked the code on a scalable platform for indoor farming,” said Plenty CEO Arama Kukutai. “With Plenty’s first commercial farm, we’re proving that our uniquely vertical indoor farms can deliver a reliable, year-round supply of fresh produce with positive unit economics.”

Read the full story at The Spoon.

Alt Protein

New Study Claims Cultivated Meat’s Current Path Is Significantly Worse for Environment Than Beef

A new life-cycle analysis by researchers at UC Davis has concluded that the current path of the cultivated meat industry’s commercialization process is potentially orders of magnitude worse for the environment than beef produced through animal agriculture, producing anywhere from 4 to 25 times more CO2 than traditionally produced beef.

The analysis, which at this point has not been peer-reviewed, stands in stark contrast to previous life cycle analysis (LCA) studies that have concluded the environmental impact of cell-cultivated meat – which the study calls “animal cell-based meat” or ACBM – is significantly less than that of traditionally produced beef. However, according to the new research, the problem with previous LCAs is that they do not accurately represent the environmental impact of the current technologies being used in the assumption sets for forecasts within the techno-economic models.

In particular, the study (which was first written about in IFL Science) says the significant environmental impact associated with the purification required of growth medium has not been fully accounted for in previous studies. According to the UC Davis researchers, these previous studies had “high levels of uncertainty in their results and a lack of accounting” for what they believe is the necessary endotoxin removal required for growth media. Accounting for the required purification is essential say the study’s authors, and they believe that the fossil fuel needed for purified growth medium components using the current anticipated commercialization process is anywhere between 3 and 17 times that of the reported “high” scenario for that of traditional boneless beef production.

While the researchers state their study is more accurate than previous LCAs that didn’t accurately model the cost of the production of the purified growth medium, they go on to say that is because the cost built into these techno-economic models is based on current systems being developed for the near-term commercialization of ACBM. They say that the industry would be better off as a whole if some of the key issues were solved before the industry focused on commercial scaling, such as developing a more “environmentally friendly method for endotoxin removal” or “the development of a technological innovation that allows for the use of an inexpensive animal cell growth media produced from agricultural by-products.”.

Read the full story at The Spoon

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