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Mapping the Market: Investor Moves in Restaurant Technology

July 8, 2024

By:

eatOS Staff

Investors Sustain Interest in Restaurant Tech Amidst Flat Foodtech Deal Flow

Investors seem to have had enough of foodtech. VC investment in the vertical has remained stagnant over the past six quarters, according to PitchBook data, hovering between $1.96 billion and $2.16 billion in quarterly deal value. Q1 2024 saw $2.2 billion invested across 246 deals, a slight uptick from the previous quarter.


This steady investment pattern indicates that the sector is maturing from its explosive growth patterns to a more stable phase. That means investors are adopting a more wait-and-see attitude, very astutely picking opportunities that yield steady results rather than high-risk, high-reward strategies. At the same time, stability points out a solid base and continued interest in foodtech, driven by ongoing innovations and the essential nature of industries having to do with food.


Continued Interest in Restaurant and Retail Tech

But investors aren't dining and dashing entirely. Restaurant and retail tech—technologies and services that improve cooking precision and effectiveness, cut down waste, and help track food—has continued to attract fresh funding. This sector remains a bright spot within the foodtech vertical.


Market Overview

PitchBook customers can view the full market map, complete with details on more than 7,900 companies. This enables investors to identify trends, benchmark performance, and understand where an opportunity sits within the dynamic landscape of restaurant and retail tech.


Spotlight: Restaurant and Retail Tech Categories

The retail tech segment is broken into six categories by the PitchBook analysts:


Advanced Vending 

Independent robotic food and beverage distributors, such as contactless restaurants or vending machines. These technologies are quickly becoming very popular among a host of consumers who want quick and contactless service. 


Delivery Robots

Autonomous machines that deliver groceries and takeout. These robots revolutionize the last mile of delivery, reducing labor costs and increasing the speed and reliability of food delivery services.


Ghost Kitchens

Commercial kitchens that service meal delivery platforms without providing brick-and-mortar dining experiences. Ghost kitchens respond to growing interest in food delivery and seek ways to increase a restaurant's presence without having a traditional restaurant setup.


Grocery Store Tech

Food retail and grocery store-oriented robot and software services, from checkout automation to inventory management tools and robotic stocking, enhance the efficiency and customer experience of grocery stores.


Kitchen Tech and Robotics

Automation technologies designed for use in kitchen environments—these technologies combat labor constraints and health risks. From robotic culinary experts to automated dishwashers, these solutions make kitchen operations much safer and more efficient.


Sales and Operations Tech

A solution specifically developed by restaurants to manage their inventories, points of sale, and customer loyalty at the drive-through. These products are cornerstones in the modern management of restaurants, having helped owners reduce their waste, streamline their operations, and delight their customers.


Flat Deal Flow, Historic Setting

Foodtech deal flow has been relatively flat for a year and a half. All in all, 2023 continued that decline, hosting 1,339 deals for $9.6 billion—far from the vertical's peak in 2021 when it generated $47 billion from 2,250 deals. Much of this decline can be credited to a mix of market saturation, economic uncertainty, and a general refocus by investors toward more mature and stable opportunities.


While these sustained levels of investment are indicative that the sector is no longer growing at the exhilarating rates it used to, it's an important and ongoing area for innovation and investment. The continued funding also shows just how in-demand technological change within the food industry remains as it grapples with labor shortages, supply chain disruption, and shifting consumer preferences.


Q1 2024 Performance

A restaurant- and retail-tech segment raised $551.5 million in Q1 2024 to become the second-best-performing vertical in the space. Such notable rounds as $388 million in growth funding for Dutch online grocery Picnic a month ago, $90 million for precision fermentation Perfect Day in January, and the mammoth $665 million round for Indian online grocery store Zepto in June were all announced.


The landing of these huge investments thus attests to the surge in the need for technological solutions within the increasingly competitive food industry. Companies like Picnic and Zepto are scaling their operations, improving customer experience, and growing their business with technology. Ample funding rounds suggest that investors retain much faith in these companies to shake up traditional models of food retail and delivery.


Analysis of the Exit Environment

As generally occurred for most VC landscapes, the exit environment remained muted for foodtech from its peak: $104.9 billion raised across 119 deals in 2021; Q1 2024: $100m in exit value across 18 deals; Notable exits include meal kit delivery service Blue Apron's buy by Wonder in November for $103 million. In April, frozen food giant McCain Foods agreed to acquire plant-based frozen foods manufacturer Strong Roots for an undisclosed amount.


Subdued exit activity is illustrative of how far foodtech startups have gone without seeing a liquidity event, but some notable exits do indicate strategic interest in foodtech assets. The value proposition of firms like Blue Apron and Strong Roots, which gives a clear proposition of convenience, health, and sustainability, endows them with a special place in the eyes of probable acquirers.


Conclusion

While the general landscape of investment in foodtech has been flat, certain segments—like restaurant and retail technologies—have continued to show deep investor interest. These technologies inherently drive industry efficiency and innovation, making for compelling investment opportunities. For a fuller exposition of these trends and much more, PitchBook's Q1 2024 Foodtech Report contains important insight and data.


The restaurant and retail tech sectors have retained huge interest and investment due to their critical role in shaping the future of Food Service and Retail. As companies find ways to innovate and adapt to changing market conditions, investors will more than likely find enough opportunities to support transformative technologies that will enhance operational efficiency, meet consumer demand, and develop growth prospects for the food sector.




Disclaimer: This article is informative and not for promotional purposes. Moreover, the content belongs to the owner and there are no affiliations or marketing motives behind it.





For media inquiries, please contact:

PR Team | pr@eatOS.com | +1 424 401 0184

 

About eatOS

Since 2017, eatOS has championed "Restaurants Made Simple" through its integrated ecosystem of products. This AI-driven restaurant management technology, tailored for boutique eateries and large-scale chains, boasts an advanced Point of Sale, intuitive kitchen interfaces, table-side ordering and payment solutions, self-service kiosks, and an expansive online ordering and delivery platform. We're redefining the dining landscape, ensuring efficiency, and elevating guest experiences.

 

eatOS POS Inc. | 1111 Brickell Avenue FL 10, Miami, FL 33131 | eatOS.com

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