Cloud kitchens given a boost as foodie Asians order in – The Christian Science Monitor

Bangkok

Singapore’s Ebb & Flow Group took an unusual route to creating one of its most popular food items: analyzing more than 200,000 data points to predict customer preference and potential demand.

The result, launched shortly before the coronavirus sent the city into lockdown, was Wrap Bstrd – wraps with fillings such as chicken satay rice and beef bulgogi, borne from the insight that customers preferred Asian flavors in a fuss-free fashion.

“We were able to combine advanced behavioral data capabilities and pattern analyses with the expertise of our chefs to create a brand and menu that was specifically tailored for our customers,” said chief executive Lim Kian Chun.

“It is Singapore’s first food and beverage brand that is driven entirely by insights derived from artificial intelligence,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

Ebb & Flow Group is one of a growing number of companies operating restaurant kitchens known as “dark,” “cloud,” or “ghost” kitchens, which have no physical presence, and offer delivery-only services from a centralized location through a mobile app.

Often operating out of warehouses and semi-industrial buildings on the outskirts of cities, dark kitchens allow for burgers and biryanis to be made in the same location, and delivered directly to consumers ordering online.

While food delivery was already on the rise in recent years with aggregators such as Zomato, Uber Eats, and foodpanda, coronavirus lockdowns and concerns about eating out have precipitated a boom in these services lately, analysts say.

“The cloud kitchen model was already gaining momentum, now it is at a
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