Technological Trends Reshaping the Restaurant Industry in 2024by@alexanderponomarev
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1,171 reads

Technological Trends Reshaping the Restaurant Industry in 2024

by Alex PonomarevMarch 13th, 2024
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The restaurant industry has witnessed an extraordinary shift towards digitalization. In this article, I'd shared the most promising technological trends set to revolutionize global and the Middle Eastern restaurant market. Generative artificial intelligence is undoubtedly the technology of the year, expected to reshape numerous industries worldwide, including the food tech sector.
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Over the last few years, the restaurant industry has witnessed an extraordinary shift towards digitalization. In particular, the size of the food technology market is set to grow from $260.07 billion in 2022 to $360 billion in 2028.

These technological adaptations have become the new norm, from the familiar digital menus to the convenience of online ordering and contactless payment. However, a wave of groundbreaking solutions has emerged amidst this rapidly evolving landscape. Here are the most promising technological trends to revolutionize the global restaurant industry.

AI Forecasting

Generative artificial intelligence is undoubtedly the technology of the moment, expected to reshape numerous industries worldwide, including the food sector. According to the Mordor Intelligence Study, the AI in Food & Beverages market size is estimated at $9.68 billion in 2024 and is expected to reach $48.99 billion by 2029, growing at a CAGR of 38.30%.

There are now a plethora of plugins that enable ChatGPT to interact seamlessly with various third-party websites. Through this valuable partnership, the bot can now respond to queries like, "Where can I find a highly-reviewed brunch spot for a business meeting?" or "Which restaurant is perfect for a romantic St. Valentine's Day celebration with my partner?" and even provide users with convenient links for booking a table.

However, the benefits of AI-based technologies in the food industry don't stop there. They also have the potential to drive cost savings and significantly improve restaurant profitability. Specifically, AI technology is helping F&B companies with supply chain management through logistics, predictive analytics, and transparency. By leveraging AI, accurate predictions of customer demand can be made by considering many factors, such as holidays, traffic patterns, weather conditions, televised sports events, cultural happenings, and seasonal changes.

With this valuable insight into customer flow, restaurants can optimize their ingredient stock levels, ensuring they have the right amount.  Practically speaking, AI algorithms analyze historical sales data and discern demand patterns to generate accurate predictions of future demand. This prevents wasteful over-ordering and minimizes the risk of disappointing customers by running out of their favorite dishes. Notably, this approach reduces waste, a significant win for the environment.

AI-generated visual resources

Restaurants have already begun utilizing the viral bot ChatGPT to create menu item descriptions or visuals with the assistance of services like Midjouney's research lab. Some companies have taken it a step further by developing their own AI-based solutions such as a food photo generator or a text-to-photo tool that also generates images based on menu item descriptions.

One such tech startup is Lunchbox, which recently unveiled an  AI-powered food photo generator in collaboration with OpenAI, the firm behind ChatGPT. Similarly, food tech startup SWIPEBY has leveraged OpenAI and Stability AI's technology to create a text-to-photo tool that generates images based on menu item descriptions. The more the AI-powered food photo generator is used, the better the search results users could obtain as the AI adapts to audience preferences.

According to Lunchbox, this AI technology identifies appealing and frequently clicked photos, enabling it to generate similar versions. Furthermore, Lunchbox’s CEO, Nabeel Alamgir, highlighted that food items with images see 70% more orders and 65% higher sales compared to restaurants that don't include images.

AI-generated-visuals by Midjourney. Image by Kochfreunde Zukunft Restaurant, Berlin

There is even a more surprising trend related to generated menus. Some restaurants make dishes following recipes that ChatGPT created. These experiments can become viral and attract a larger audience to a restaurant. As a vivid example, Shake Shack and Coca-Cola have used AI to design menu options and flavors, an experiment that is becoming increasingly popular. After all, who wouldn't want to share those captivating pictures saying, "Have you seen this?".

Face and finger ID

Another possible way to enhance a restaurant's performance is by implementing FaceID, an advanced identification system that utilizes facial recognition algorithms. As a vivid example, Steak ‘n Shake, which has more than 500 locations worldwide, deployed payments technology company PopID’s pay-by-face capabilities at select locations, with plans to expand it to 300 restaurants. By matching the facial nodes of individuals with saved images in the database, this cutting-edge technology ensures secure access control.

Additionally, an alternative version utilizing fingerprint recognition is also available. For example, in collaboration with Amazon One, Panera has introduced palm biometrics scanning to some of its cafes, integrating it with its 52-million-member loyalty program. With palm scanning, customers can make payments and access their loyalty rewards effortlessly.

As recent data showed, 15% of restaurants in the UAE have already integrated Face ID into the management system. Approximately 5% of new restaurants use Biometrics ID technology each year.

These ID systems can enhance employee discipline. They allow for tracking the team’s attendance promptly, identifying members who arrive late or engage in activities deviating from corporate policies.

Image by Miguel Tomas

Moreover, face or fingerprint ID serves as a robust safeguard against data or financial theft. Critical system functions allow to operate through facial identification, limiting access to top management or specific authorized employees. This additional layer of security ensures that only individuals with unique biometric data can enter designated areas or perform vital operations, mitigating the risk of unauthorized access and potential breaches.

Real-time reports

Another transformative technology is real-time reporting. It holds immense potential for enhancing a restaurant's performance. By granting access to up-to-the-minute sales data and operational insights, it empowers businesses to identify and resolve bottlenecks swiftly while making strategic decisions for the future.

Real-time reports include hundreds of business metrics that encompass such aspects as labor and energy costs, revenue, stock levels, wastage, and purchases. By analyzing this comprehensive data, restaurant management gains visibility into their operations, enabling them to identify the most profitable dishes, predict busy periods, and strategically schedule staff to meet customers’ demands.

With global food tech marketing to reach $360.194 million, one of the top trends remains the integration of AI in various aspects, including forecasting, labor scheduling and order-taking for both drive-thru and takeout. This increasing demand for fast-forward technology will one of the market drivers fueling the industry in the MENA region and beyond.