Catering Insight has witnessed another busy events month in the UK catering equipment industry. There have been many common themes within these conference and sector debates, principally those of technology and sustainability – in many cases using the former to achieve the latter.
The rise of automation and smart technology cannot be stopped, with prototypes already on the market such as pizza delivery vans that automatically cook the food on the journey, timed to be ready just as the vehicle reaches its destination.
Likewise artificial intelligence is already being deployed to predict demand for individual dishes and ingredients in foodservice outlets to minimise food waste. One futurologist even predicted that 3D food printers will be combined with cooking appliances within the next decade.
But with the Internet of Things-connected professional kitchen appliances already available there was a stark warning: ensure they are protected from cyber attackers, because a security breach could cause a serious problem. No-one wants their or their clients’ businesses at the mercy of a ransom.
The green agenda is also likely to continue to dominate, and considering national and global targets for reducing carbon and limiting temperature rises, it is imperative that all parts of our supply chain take energy efficiency into account when creating kitchens or manufacturing the appliances themselves. More regulation could also be imposed on the sector to this end, unless we are collectively proactive and steer the direction of policy-makers ourselves.
But if you’re feeling overwhelmed by the rapid onslaught of technological change, I have bad news: in all likelihood it will accelerate even faster in the coming years. I would suggest trying to keep up with the latest developments as best as you can – or even get ahead of the game and anticipate what is coming down the line, or else get left behind.
Back to the here and now though. Another year has come rushing to an end, and for Catering Insight that means it’s our awards night – now in its fifth annual edition, incredibly. By the time you read this, it will be over and done with for another year, but I can tell you that we had a record amount of voters – over 200 – deciding the winners this time, so our worthy victors can be justifiably proud that a hugely reflective number of senior industry executives have backed them.
And finally, as it’s the end of 2019, I hope you all have a restful and prosperous Christmas and New Year period, and we’ll see you again, raring to get your teeth stuck into the next decade, ie, 2020!