Connected Technology Enables Home Cooking to Take on Uber Eats

Tech Enables Home Cooking to Take on Uber Eats

With connected appliances, home cooking is becoming as convenient as takeout, according to technology company Fresco.

In an interview with PYMNTS, Ben Harris, CEO and co-founder of the connected cooking platform, explained that the goal is to make cooking so intuitive and convenient that consumers will choose to make their food themselves rather than seek prepared meals.

“We see ourselves as competing with an Uber Eats or frozen pizza,” Harris said. “We need to make sure the rewards are greater, but the effort is minimized as well, to make sure that it’s an easy choice to decide to cook.”

Certainly, consumers are looking for more convenient options, with many no longer willing to put the time into traditional home cooking. On an earnings call last month, Campbell Soup Company CEO Mark Clouse pointed to findings that consumers are not interested in spending more than 20 minutes preparing dinner or 10 minutes on lunch.

To that end, many consumers are opting more for prepared meals. Research from PYMNTS’ study, “Digital Economy Payments: Consumers Buy Into Food Bargains,” which drew from a July survey of nearly 2,700 U.S. consumers, found that 37% of consumers bought prepared food on their most recent grocery trip, up seven points from the 30% of consumers who had done so in November 2021.

Fresco, for its part, has launched its operating system, KitchenOS, with the Instant Pot Pro Plus already on the platform and more manufacturers and appliances to come. Harris noted that the goal is to provide a fully connected kitchen experience, with everything from meal planning to grocery purchasing to cooking facilitated through one interface, with the software guiding how to prepare the meal along the way.

“It’s an entertaining, joyful, happy process,” Harris said. “That’s really our vision and what we’re marching towards.”

Conversely, he contended that many of the existing efforts in the connected home kitchen appliance space have failed to make consumers’ lives simpler, technically leveraging smart technology but not actually removing the effort typically associated with home cooking.

Right now, the restaurant industry is winning, with restaurant sales outpacing grocery by a significant margin. In February, the most recent month on record, U.S. Census Bureau data revealed, adjusted bar and restaurant sales totaled about $93 billion, while adjusted food and beverage store sales were 13% below that, amounting to $81 billion.

Harris noted that, with many young, single consumers now ordering many of their meals from restaurants, “average fluency has been reducing” in the kitchen, such that, when those same people have families and want to cook their own meals, they may need more help than previous generations’ parents. He cited the rise of appliances such as Instant Pots and air fryers as a testament to this demand for more convenient cooking options.

“[We’re] consolidating and unifying what is a regimented stash of brands, appliances companies and recipe creators into delightful, intuitive process that will allow you to orchestrate your kitchen with any recipe in a seamless way,” Harris said.