APAC’s foodservice sector rapidly adopts robots

Two in five consumers are more inclined to avail of digitally advanced products and services.

Asia-Pacific has seen a fast-tracking of robotics and automation technologies’ implementation in the foodservice sector, as consumers in the region are more inclined to seek out digitally advanced and smart products and services, according to a report from GlobalData.

Some two in five consumers affirmed that their choice of products and services are often or always influenced by how digitally advanced or smart the product and service is, according to a survey, allowing the region to become the global hub for such automated platforms.

These automated platforms can complement human efforts, and thereby elevate the labor productivity, service efficiency, profitability, and overall consumer experience, GlobalData said.

Service robots can automate danger-prone, energy-intensive, and repetitive functions round-the-clock, allowing hotels, restaurants, and catering (HoReCa) operators to reallocate human workers to more qualitative, value-added tasks, said GlobalData’s consumer analyst Bobby Verghese.

The droids can minimise human-human and human-food physical contact, which has become a key consumer requirement amidst the pandemic, he said.

“Service robots can help foodservice operators in offsetting worker shortfalls in scenarios such as the pandemic lockdowns. The APAC markets such as Japan, South Korea, and Singapore are the early adopters of foodservice automation due to their shrinking workforce and a rapidly-aging populace,” Verghese said.

For instance, Grab commissioned service robots at its Hill View outlet in Singapore last September to ferry food from the cloud kitchens to diners at the food court and delivery riders waiting outside, and ferry dirty dishes back to the kitchen.

Tung Lok Group has also commissioned robot servers at its restaurants in China, Japan, Indonesia, Singapore, and Vietnam. Similarly, ‘Root C, a robot barista installed at Tokyo’s Shimbashi train station in October, allows passengers to pre-order hot drinks during the journey and pick it up on arrival at the station.

“Owing to such high efficiency, productivity, hygiene and safety attributes, the adoption of such advanced technologies is poised to surge, particularly among cloud kitchens mushrooming across the region. Service robots and kitchen automation can play a pivotal role in the APAC foodservice sector’s recovery from the pandemic crisis,” Verghese said.

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