China's first self-service supermarkets launch in Beijing and Hangzhou
Self-service supermarkets have been gaining in popularity in several regions around the world, thanks to the success of self-service checkout stations at chains like Sainsbury’s and Fresh & Easy. That said, they haven’t caught on equally everywhere just yet. But they are making their way in various forms. This week, the first self-service supermarkets in China were launched in Beijing and Hangzhou.
According to China-based news outlet Shanghaiist, the self-service markets are not subsidiaries of Tesco or any other global supermarket chain. Rather, the markets are reportedly the brainchild of Zhima Credit, a credit rating system developed by China’s massive commerce empire Alibaba. Shoppers at the markets were able to pay either with cash or with Alibaba-owned Alipay.
Since the self-service supermarkets aren’t linked to any specific supermarket chain, it stands to reason that the launch of these particular supermarkets had a different motive than just the expansion of commerce alone. Indeed, as Shanghaiist reports, the markets were created as a study to test consumer honesty.
So what were the results? Overall, the results were positive—though there were some consumers who took advantage of the lack of accountability that comes from self-checkout:
This could be why self-service supermarkets haven’t caught on in China yet—the article reports that many consumers in China believe that the country isn’t ready yet for self-service markets. But shoplifting will always be a problem for self-service supermarkets (and any type of supermarket, for that matter), and Zhima Credit announced satisfaction and confidence with the trust that consumers who used their self-serve markets displayed.
So while these may not be permanent, perhaps this experiment could pay the way for the entrance of true self-service markets in the very near future.
New Dublin cloud kitchen for Sodexo
Sodexo has opened a new cloud kitchen in Dublin, Ireland, after launching workplace catering subsidiary, Fooditude.
Catering, facilities management and home services company, Sodexo, has a revenue of €22b and is headquartered in Issy-les-Moulineaux, France, with offices across 28 countries.
Catering company Fooditude is based in London and creates organic, fresh food for clients and focuses on eliminating food waste.
A ‘cloud kitchen’ (also known as a ghost kitchen, virtual kitchen or shared kitchen) is set up for delivery-only food brands.
In December 2020, Sodexo acquired a majority shareholding in Fooditude.
Sodexo and Fooditude move the hospitality industry into the digital age
Sodexo declared that Fooditude would have a huge role to play, as it develops new consumer-focused food services for the digital age.
“Our investment in Fooditude is a crucial element in the evolution of Sodexo’s workplace food services”, said Julie Ennis, CEO of corporate services at Sodexo UK & Ireland. “Organisations are rethinking the way they work, reviewing their office footprints and the purpose of those spaces, so it is crucial we have the right flexible, digitally-powered food services to meet our clients’ and consumers’ needs.”
Fooditude doesn’t just offer catering deliveries, the company also organises pop-ups. The company uses organic produce and takes sustainability seriously.
“One of the toughest challenges with our business model is to operate with minimum impact on the environment”, said a Fooditude representative. “Reducing food waste is our top priority this year. To that end we have embarked on a few interesting partnerships with charities and businesses tackling this problem. We work with FoodCycle, OLIO and Orca.”
Fooditude also measures its carbon footprint with The Planet Mark, a sustainability certification. Fooditude’s goal is to reduce its carbon footprint by at least 5% in 2021.
A welcome food move in hospitable Dublin
The Dublin food scene is well known for flourishing outdoor markets and cosy fire-lit pubs. Taking a hybrid kitchen there is fitting for the modern age, especially in the post-pandemic era when many customers may prefer ordering food to be delivered, instead of eating out.
“We are delighted to take Fooditude to Dublin”, said Ennis. “We see significant potential to establish and grow the business there, with clear benefits to our current clients as well as an offer that will help us grow our Ireland business and target new clients in the city’s fast-growing technology and media sectors.”