Sunday, June 24, 2012

Would You Buy Your Food From an ATM?

Food is increasingly available through machines or self-service devices, and not just those dull boxes that spit out a crumbly bag of chips or lukewarm soda. Check out these three gadgets that have taken vending machines to the next level:

1. Cupcake ATM
Sounds awesome, right? The Sprinkles cupcake chain in Beverly Hills, Calif., installed this popular machine earlier in the year. Customers choose a cupcake on the touch screen, swipe their credit card and get a fresh cupcake delivered to them by a robotic arm at any hour of the day. The machine is debuting at five Sprinkles locations by the end of the year, according to Restaurant News. The popular ATM sells more than 1,000 cupcakes per day and even has treats available for your furry friends.

2. Pizza Vending Machine
It’s not delivery, it’s … a vending machine? Yes, you heard right — after a successful introduction in Italy and then the U.K., the “Let’s Pizza” vending machine is now set to make its way to America. The machine takes care of it all, from kneading the dough to adding your choice of three toppings before popping out a 10.5 inch pizza in under three minutes. Creator A1 Concepts is preparing to open headquarters in Atlanta, while the machines will debut in a Florida theme park before expanding to various locations across the states.

3. Mobile Automated Food Stores
Everyone loves the sweets, but what if you want something healthier to balance out all those cupcakes and pizza? OK, fine, the machines can do that, too. Carts Blanche’s “VendaMart” food trailers are designed to deliver healthy, nutritional foods to people in food desert locations. The self-serve food and beverage trailers are equipped with built-in refrigerated, frozen and ambient temperature vending machines that accept cash, credit and debit. They’re a convenient alternative to using trucks and carts to deliver produce, or offering it at curbside stands and farmer’s markets.

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Sunday, June 17, 2012

Want an Idli for 2017?

Imagine Idlis that can last forever. Wistful, but this sizzling idea could become a reality if the latest advances in food technology in the US are anything to go by.

In fact, long lasting food has been termed one of the 10 great ideas that are changing our lives. The signs of food posterity are already there. In 2002, the US Department of Defense Combat Feeding Directorate made the ideal sandwich with a filling of barbecued chicken and glycerol and sorbitol to absorb the water. It was then wrapped in a packet with chemicals which removed oxygen and put in polypropylene and foil.
Nasa recently reported making a bread pudding which could last four years, while the Pentagon made cake that can stay spongy for five years. No, it wasn’t the wine suffused Christmas cake that lasts a whole year even in the hands of the most ordinary cook.

Cut to desi food. Can Indian food with its generous doses of oil and spices be palatable after years? “Why not,” asks Darly Thomas , head of technology transfer and business development at the Mysore-based Central Food Technological Research Institute. “Though it hasn’t been tried, it’s possible to do so chemically. Besides, if it can be done in the West, why can’t we?”Be it Indian or continental food, what’s important is to see that the water content is reduced, microbe activity is nil and packaging material air-tight.

The signs are already there. McCain Foods India Pvt Ltd, a subsidiary of McCain Foods Canada which specializes in frozen French fries and potato products, even launched an India specific product this month – McCain Idli Sambar Combo Pack. MTR, which has been supplying to the army, and ITC, too, are upgrading to cater to the Indian palate.

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Idli & Dosa-Making Machines on board INS Vikramaditya.

Even as aircraft carrier INS Vikramaditya, formerly Admiral Gorshkov, is getting ready for pre-induction trials, it has seen the successful demonstration of a product that is exclusively Indian.

For, a group of engineers from Eskay Enterprises, Bangalore, has installed six dosa-making machines and three idli-making machines on board INS Vikramaditya and just returned from Arkhangelsk region in Russia where the ship was docked. It will help serve traditional Indian delicacies to the Indian crew once the ship is commissioned.

The automated dosa and idli making technology was developed by Mysore-based Central Food Technological Research Institute (CFTRI) and Eskay Enterprises is one of the licensees authorised to manufacture the automated machines.

The automated technology will enable assembly-line production of 400 dosas and 1,000 idlis an hour on each machine and will cater to the nearly 2,000 crew members who will be on board the ship. Eight wet grinders have also been installed for grinding rice and other ingredients for batter.

The technology was developed by the CFTRI in 1998 and since then has proved to be popular in major industries where catering for a large workforce requires mass production. The machines have been so designed that they take care of all operations pertaining to making a dosa such as spreading batter to the requisite size, oiling, cooking and even dispensing curry and chutney. The automated technology also ensures that hygienic norms are observed in the kitchen as it obviates manual labour during mass production of idlis and dosas of uniform taste.


Sunday, June 3, 2012

MNCs can’t make Indians abandon Idli, Dosa or Chapathi.

Thai, Chinese, Mughlai, Continental…there has indeed been a cultural invasion into Indian menu in restaurants and hotels but when it comes to eating at home, Indians still like to have Idli, dosa, chappathi, vada.

This is what the three post graduate students of the Indian School of Business, Hyderabad, who won the ‘Become Indra’s Advisor Contest’ had to tell PepsiCo. The 200-odd teams who participated in the national contest were given the topic, ‘Transforming breakfast for Indian consumers’ centered around the company’s Quaker Oats and Tropicana juice brands.

The winning team of Indradeep Das, Sunitha Subramaniam and Sameep Mendiratta got the rare opportunity to spend time with Indra Nooyi, PepsiCo, Chairman in New York and present their creative views on the Indian breakfast market.

The team told PepsiCo that oats, cornflakes are alien to Indian diet so is juice for breakfast when tea and coffee are more preferred. Packaged breakfast for morning should take into account lack of time for the working class and existing food habits that die hard.

Can the invasion of PepsiCo, Nestle, Britannia or Coco Cola change the ingrained food habits of Indians? The cornflakes example shows it isn’t that easy.

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