16 January, 2020

Food Tech POV of CES2020

Erik Wallin
CEO at Northfork

Last week was truly exciting as always coming to Las Vegas for the CES. Like last year the Northfork team were excited to look at advancements within the smart home, connected kitchen and the online grocery space.

The connective strength that food has in our lives, cultures and not at least in our homes is surely something that companies are innovating upon, most with the understanding that we like to eat home made meals; but need a hand for inspiration, shopping and cooking. This all comes together at CES, but there is some footwork needed to be done to connect the dots. Below is a recap of what we see as some of the most important things that we learned.

There was no shortage of food innovation at this year’s big show in Vegas. Looking at both appliances, software and products.

For appliances smart fridges is somewhat a reoccurring theme at CES. This year advancements are seen in tracking of inventory by cameras, but it still looks like it will be a few years away before it gives true value to users. One user case that we would like to see is that inventory would automatically connect with shopping lists or even cart content. One aspect of the fridge is the space for a large screen. But as the distance is often far away from where the real action is in the kitchen; the countertop, our user tests show that it is still not that useful for cooking or shopping groceries. Our favourite use case of the screen on the fridge still is; streaming music.

Appliance manufacturers are connecting to consumer services like recipe sites and shopping lists, but there is yet to be seen a proper connection to a grocery shopping experience. That major piece of the network of the connected kitchen is yet to be explored. Hopefully we don’t have to wait until next year’s CES for that.

On the countertop there is a battle of space, as innovation seems to be never ending in assisted cooking, home farms and beverage making.

For assisted cooking the robotic arms from Samsung and LG are probably the most eye catching and innovative, and at the same time least likely for wide adoption, even if the promise is that the cost will be on par with other kitchen appliances. Having fixed arms in the kitchen seems to me like a total rebuild of the kitchen is needed. What is interesting is how the actual countertop are being transformed to ’smart’ by induction heating and wireless power for charging and powering small kitchen appliances. How great wouldn’t it be to get rid of all those cables.

For me the most interesting thing at CES2020 is a microwave oven. Yes, it’s true, and it doesn’t come from a small niche player either. It’s GE that in their second version of the Kitchen Hub mounted the video touch screen on the front of a usable microwave oven. The size of the screen, in combination with an appliance that everyone has is compelling. Both for wide adoption and usage. With usage the user case is clear in terms of inspiration (planning), shopping and cooking on top of standard android features such as music, video etc. It’s refreshing to know that you could remove a TV or other smart screen that you may currently have in the kitchen. We wish that we will be able to see how this product is accepted by the consumers.

An innovation that we really appreciate is the entry of more alternatives to meat, like the Impossible Foods launch of plant based pork.

So the future of the kitchen looks bright from many perspectives, both guiding users to more well tasting meals being prepped at home, with possibilities to exchange meat for vegetarian alternatives without compromising on taste.

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Northfork took to the stage at Food Tech Live at Treasure Island, to demo the Walmart shopping experience in the Tasty app, powered by the company.

About the author

Erik Wallin
CEO at Northfork

Erik is co-founder of Northfork, he has a long experience of the grocery industry within marketing and sales. Before Northfork, Erik founded BagHitch a P2P transportation service.