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10/12/2017

Robot-made Salads?

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Salad Bot

If bagged salads or salad bars aren’t quick or convenient enough for some consumers, they now have a third option: “Sally, a salad-making robot who can prepare one of a thousand possible custom salads in around 60 seconds,” reports Fast Company.

“The issue with packaged salads is that people can’t customize them,” Deepak Sekar, inventor of the robot and founder and CEO of Chowbotics, the startup company that’s marketing Sally, told the magazine. Sally’s technology uses freshly chopped ingredients, dispensed from 21 ingredient canisters filled with chef-approved salad components, to make 40 salads before refilling. According to Chowbotics’ website, Sally is mini-fridge-sized, fits on a 30” x 30” table, is refrigerated and easy to clean, and can prepare a seven-component salad in under a minute. It’s all executed from a touchscreen, with a credit card reader option available.

Sally is currently tossing up salads in corporate settings, sitting beside old-school vending machines, but her creators and investors see Sally’s potential to revolutionize or even end the packaged salad market. She could also prompt smaller foodservice operators to opt out of salad bars in favor of robotics.

“Fast-food restaurants, which typically only offer a few options for salads, have also already expressed interest,” reports Fast Company. “Sekar believes that the robot could also be useful in places like the Bay Area where restaurants struggle to keep cooks because of the high cost of living.”

Grocerant-Ready Ideas:

  • More customization of bagged salads, bundled prepared meals and store-made extras
  • Signature salad bar dressings that customers can’t get anywhere else
  • Automation where it makes sense, like espresso machines and upscale snack and vending