To borrow from The White Stripes, “I’ve said it once before but it bears repeating now.” If you want to know the future of food tech, look at what’s happening in pizza.
Because of its ubiquity, relative ease to make, and transportability (i.e. great for delivery!), pizza is a perfect food when it comes to testing out new technologies across the meal journey.
One technology in particular being applied to pizza making is robotics. Automated pizza making appears to be all the rage nowadays with a number of players heating up the space. Here’s a quick rundown of the key companies bringing robotics to the world of pizza:
Funding: $20.7 million
Solution: Picnic makes a modular system of robots that precisely apply toppings like cheese, pepperoni and more to pre-formed dough. Picnic’s robot can assemble 300 pies in an hour that are cooked separately, and just last week the company debuted its second-gen robot, which provides greater visibility into the machine. Picnic’s solution isn’t just for pizza, however, it can also be used to assemble foods like burritos and Subway-style sandwiches.
MIDDLEBY/Lab 2 Fab
Funding: Publicly traded
Solution: Middleby’s Lab 2 Fab publicly debuted its new PizzaBot 5000 at our Smart Kitchen Summit last month. The enclosed cabinet robot applies three base ingredients (e.g. sauce, cheese, pepperoni), and can assemble a pizza in under a minute, where it can be moved by a human or a robot into an oven. The PizzaBot 5000 will go into beta in early 2021.
Funding: completed $1 million in equity crowdfunding, seeking another $5 million
Solution: Piestro is a new startup looking to build a robotic pizza vending machine. The planned machine can accept orders through a mobile app and deliver a hot pizza in under three minutes. The company also recently announced a partnership with Kiwibot that allows that company’s eponymous delivery robot to retrieve pizzas from Piestro and deliver them to customers.
Funding: €12.2 million (~$14.9M USD)
Solution: Of all the companies listed here, PAZZI’s (formerly EKIM) pizza maker is the more “robotic,” with multiple articulating arms that top the pizza, put it in the oven, remove a slice it. PAZZIs are roughly 45 sq. meters and meant to be automated standalone kiosks. The first PAZZI went live in France last year.
This list doesn’t even include the pizza vending machines that are popping up from API Tech, Basil St. and Bake Xpress. We didn’t formally include those in this roundup because they are just re-heating frozen pizzas, not performing a series of different tasks to create a pizza on the spot.
With its universal appeal (who doesn’t like pizza?), pizza will remain a medium that pushes food technology forward that other types of cuisine will benefit from.