Thank you for joining us for the inaugural issue of Tastes & tIPples™. The theme for the issue is ‘new beginnings’ so please could we start by learning about your own beginnings. Can you explain to our readers a bit about nuUnlimited and what problems you are working to solve?
Sure thing. nuUnlimited was originally set up to provide provenance and traceability solutions for a variety of sectors and we were working with companies from motor scooter manufacturers to craft beer bottlers.
However, when we started working with a small chain of hospitality businesses to provide ingredient provenance for their hero ingredients of fish, beef, lamb and so on, it became clear that the hotchpotch of restaurant technologies they used were costing a fortune while adding to staff workload as opposed to delivering efficiency.
That was when we decided that we wanted to pivot nuUnlimited to focus solely on the food and restaurant technology sectors and put our provenance and traceability technology at the centre of the system to create me~nu®, to deliver meaningful digital transformation for the sector.
That meaningful digital transformation comes from seamlessly connecting data between business functions to eliminate errors, reworking and enabling more people in the business to use that data effectively to operate the business and deliver the kind of service that their customers expect. If you want to find out more, you can read the flagship brochure here.
You pride yourselves on delivering the first 2nd generation food and restaurant technology platform. Why is that important?
The current (1st generation) of food and restaurant technologies were developed to digitally transform elements of the food and restaurant sectors. However, they are narrow in focus solving only one problem – point of sale, table booking, allergen identification, home delivery ordering.
Our observations showed that in many respects using multiple, disconnected systems adds work and increases the risk of errors – the opposite of what digital transformation is supposed to deliver. The task we set ourselves was to design a complete, end to end system that delivers everything needed by the food and hospitality sector in a single, end to end solution that should:
- Significantly reduce systems costs for businesses using me~nu®
- Increase operational efficiency by at least 20%
- Reduce the compliance workload by at least 50%
- Significantly reduce if not eliminate errors
- Use accurate detailed food provenance enabling businesses to demonstrate their commitment to quality and sustainability amongst other desired attributes
Screenshots of waitstaff order interface highlighting the allergen and nutritional information baked into me~nu®
What does me~nu®/nuUnlimited provide that a consumer wouldn’t be able to get from a restaurant’s website or social media channel?
As well as seeing the menu for the restaurant, something over 75% of consumers do, me~nu® enables consumers to dig deeper and explore the whole story of the food from farm to fork including detailed provenance, standards, food miles and a great deal more. Importantly the consumer app once launched will enable consumers to personalise the menu to fit their specific dietary needs (allergens, religious and lifestyle diets, nutrition), and once they have decided they want to eat there they will be able to reserve a table and even order in advance if they choose to.
We were intrigued to read that you have created ‘a unique eco system between’ businesses, producers and customers with food firmly at the centre. Can you tell us a bit more about this and what makes it different to anything else on the market?
The more we got into the whole issue of provenance, which is not just about standards and sustainability, the more we realized that without putting a detailed, accurate record of the food from farm to fork we would not make any significant improvements on what is currently on the market.
With undeclared allergens accounting for a significant proportion of food recalls we recognised that we had to go much further than the required ‘one step back one step forward’ rule in the regulations and map everything from farm to fork properly.
That led us to the idea of developing a way to connect producers and manufacturers together by creating a farm to fork ecosystem that connects consumers to the complete story of their food and the people that produce it. Marketplace from me~nu® is the final piece in the ecosystem, due to launch in September. This will create a complete end to end environment that is designed specifically to support and connect food and hospitality businesses that are focused on local, quality and sustainable produce.
nuUnlimited wants us to celebrate the diversity of British and overseas food on offer – are there any particular cuisines that you think are going to be popular in 2023 that we might not have celebrated in the UK until now?
As sustainability and the environment continue to loom large in people’s minds and the news, we see more restaurants and chefs focusing on developing dishes and menus that use ingredients that are more seasonal, sustainable and locally sourced.
International cuisines will continue to play an important part in our diet and West African cuisine along with Colombian cuisine are two that are beginning to trend strongly in the South East.
The concept of farm-to-fork dining has undergone a resurgence (we don’t think it ever went away!) as the result of Covid-19. How does me~nu® help consumers understand the provenance of their food?
In short, me~nu® makes the entire story of the food on their plate available from source to plate. Directly from the dish on the menu consumers can dive down into the provenance of the food to found out where it came from, who made it, how and what went into it.
This can be done directly from the menu and allows consumers to dive all the way down to the source and see the complete story for themselves.
It’s no secret that the food and drink industry continues to face huge challenges. How does your product me~nu® help the sector to operate more commercially and hopefully with greater cost effectiveness?
There are several ways we expect to do this but to keep our response shorter than a dictionary here are a couple of examples:
- me~nu® provides front of house staff with all of the information needed to answer questions, so they no longer need to run backwards and forwards to ask the chef. A time and motion study we did showed that waiting staff using me~nu® to take orders in the restaurant have 15 to 20% more time to spend with customers, which typically results in bigger orders and happier customers.
- When we did a full provenance trace on a burger being sold in a restaurant we found that all the ingredients used came from within 20 miles and were produced to a very high quality. When the restaurant told the story on the menu, sales of the burger went up and the restaurant was able to raise the price by 15% because customers were proud to support local producers.
And finally, what are you most looking forward to in 2023?
Everything from welcoming new customers to achieving our business goals, and of course continuing to strengthen our IP.