FoodTech Industry Insider Thursday: 5 Trending News Stories

Researchers are pioneering "fruit-leather" from spoiled fruit peel extract, Stanford research is showing crop health can be monitored from outer space, and much more...

1. Stanford research suggests crop health can be measured from outerspace

Stanford research suggests crop health can be measured from outerspace

Fluorescent Light Particles are emited by crops during photosynthesis.                                      Source: Gizmodo

  • What: Stanford researchers believe that the future of crop yield analytics could lie in fluorescent light imaging from outer space. Satellites managed by NASA and the European Space Agency are currently recording images once per day in a trial testing phase. 

    As crops undergo photosynthesis and mature, they emit small fluorescent light particles. In aggregate, these particles can be detected via satellite and used to to gain information about crop state. 
  • Why: This method of crop yield analysis involving big data and macro-imaging from space allows for next level prediction and analysis concerning how best to plant crops in the future to maximize resiliency and yield. 

    With cutting edge big data technology now able to parse through large scale fluorescent light data from across the globe, computers will be able to achieve insights previously unavailable. According to Stanford researcher Joe Berry, the next steps are to optimize the data gathering by satellites ("spatial and temporal resolution" ), then to launch new satellites specifically designed for crop monitoring (current satellites used in testing are re-purposed). 
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2. FoodTech Startup HowAboutEat joins host of companies partaking in Australian food-tech boom. 

Foodtech startup HowAboutEat joins host of companies partaking in Australian food-tech boom

HowAboutEat is taking a new approach to food delivery,  limiting lunch-skipping in the office. 

  • ‍What: In an effort to provide nourishment to lunch-skipping professionals, HowAboutEat offers one lunch offering per day to office dwellers, who can opt in for delivery via SMS by simply texting "Yes". 

    The delivery fee per lunch is set at 1$, and  HowAboutEat aims to sign up whole offices at a time. On the other side of the platform, HowAboutEat is gaining traction with restaurants; due to the SMS opt in that HowAboutEat offers, restaurants can prepare orders for delivery well before peak lunch hours. 
  • Why: HowAboutEat is one of many promising food-tech startups based out of Sydeny. Fellow office delivery service YouChews has had success in the space, and other food supply startups such as Green Camel have made splashes in the press. 
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3. Rotterdam University Researchers Develop Fruit-Based Leather from rotting fruit that is no longer edible 

Rotterdam University Researchers Develop Fruit-Based Leather from rotting, no longer edible fruit

The compound which resembles leather is a combination of rotting apple, orange, and apricot extract 

  • What: University Researchers at Willem de Kooning Academie in Rotterdam, Netherlands have developed a leather like compound based off of rotting fruit peel extract.

    Rotterdam, one of the largest port cities in Europe, conveniently provided access to spoiling produce for researchers and students, who at times harvested thousands of kilograms of fruit earmarked to be discarded. 
  • Why: This innovation, though nascent, does have some interesting applications. The material created from the fruit extract is being used to create handbags and other similar products, and has even drawn interest from fashion designers in Paris and Milan. 
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4. FoodTech Startup Beyond Meat Adds former McDonald's CEO

FoodTech startup Beyond Meat adds former McDonald's CEO

Former McDonald's CEO Don Thompson is now a board member for veggie burger startup Beyond Meat

  • What: Former McDonald's CEO Don Thompson officially announced his retirement early in 2015 after twenty five years at McDonald's including two and half years as CEO. In a quick rebound Thompson has joined the board of directors of vegan meat startup Beyond Meat. 
  • Why: This move represents another impressive executive recruiting job for Beyond Meat, the company recently announced Honest Tea founder Seth Goldman would become chairman of the board, and on the investor side, Beyond Meat is backed by Microsoft founder Bill Gates. 
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5. Hot food tech startup Reserve releases app data, shedding light on consumer spending habits at restaurants across U.S. 

Hot Food tech startup reserve releases app data, shedding light on US restaurant consumer spending

Reserve has collected consumer data in the restaurant industry for over a year using its restaurant concierge app. Source

  • What: In a recent blog post commemorating a year since launch, Reserve CEO Greg Hong released some intriguing data regarding restaurants across cities in the U.S. Using Reserve's app for coordinating reservations and paying for meals, findings include:

    - Reserve users tip more than non reserve users (20.58% vs 19.30%)
    - Chicagoans tip the highest of any city in which Reserve operates 
    - New Yorkers make reservations most in advance 
    - Philidelphians leave thank you notes to their servers more than any other city 
    - The most expensive average dinner is in NYC ($84.34) while the best bargain is in Chicago($49.96)
  • Why: These findings add detail to the traction Reserve has found in the past year, including the raising of $15 Million in Series A money from high profile investors including  Google Ventures, as well as investments from super-celebrities in the entertainment industry such as and Jared Leto. Is Reserve on track to become the Uber for Restaurants?
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Stay tuned for our next article tomorrow!

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