Digital Food & Beverage 2020

July 20 - 22, 2020

Hilton Austin, TX

Sweetgreen has Been Named "Most Innovative Company" by Fast Company Magazine

Brought to you by WBR Insights



There's so much opportunity for innovation in today's industries. Digital Industry 4.0 technology, including smartphones, apps, data, artificial intelligence, blockchain and more, are all providing fertile ground for the next big thing in business.

And the food and beverage industry is no exception. Whether it's fast food chains experimenting with innovative ordering platforms or delivery by drone, or Amazon Go's cashierless convenience store concept, inspiration for the intelligent implementation of exciting new digital technology is everywhere.

With all these big names making such large waves in the space, it may surprise you to learn that Fast Company magazine has recently named fast-casual salad restaurant chain Sweetgreen as its most innovative company.

Sweetgreen

Since the company's healthy fast food concept was dreamt up by its Georgetown student founders, Sweetgreen has expanded rapidly and now employs around 3,500 staff across 90 locations. Over a million hungry customers have downloaded the Sweetgreen mobile app, through which the company receives roughly 50 percent of its orders.

With digital technology baked into the DNA of Sweetgreen, it's no surprise that it has devoted no small amount of its resources to constant innovation.

"In 2016, Sweetgreen unveiled an image-driven ordering app that lets users both customize orders and count calories," reports Fast Company. "The display features 60 different ingredients and is compatible with the Apple Health app. The company also announced that its stores will be fully cash-free in 2017. That means employees can spend less time at the register and more time fulfilling orders. And, in 2018, it forged new and innovative partnerships with companies like Ripe.io and Row 7, giving it a technological and flavorful edge when sourcing ingredients."

The partnership with Row 7 saw Sweetgreen involved with the development of a new type of Coquina squash seed. The experiment, dubbed "Seed to Sweetgreen" used the very latest in agricultural technology to create a flavorful new breed of the vegetable which was then used in two brand-new dishes. 100,000 seeds and six farms later, the Row 7 squash was ready, and the Koginut Squash Bowl and Roasted Squash Fries were added to the Sweetgreen menu in November 2018.

Ripe.io is an innovative startup which wants to use blockchain technology to bring new transparency to the business of shipping food.

Ripe.io saw a host of issues inherent with the food industry which could benefit from the transparency and security offered by the decentralized ledger technology of blockchain. Issues including food fraud, food safety, quality control, and spoilage management can all be tackled using the technology.

Blockchain technology is still light on proof-of-concept examples outside of finance, but Ripe.io hopes it can change all that by partnering with an innovative food company such as Sweetgreen.

"With partners like Maersk and Sweetgreen now on board, Ripe.io is looking to take its blockchain of food global," said Cofounder and President of Ripe.io, Phil Harris. "Unlike financial services, food doesn't have a center of gravity. Ripe.io hopes blockchain can serve companies throughout the food system. We've designed Ripe.io and its platform, the blockchain of food, to serve the entire food industry. From farm to fork, to the ingredients companies like those selling meat, fish, dairy, pork, fruits, and vegetables."

School Dinners

Not merely content with the accolades received so far, Sweetgreen is now setting its sights on school dinners and getting our children eating healthier and tastier food during their educational journeys.

Sweetgreen has worked with schools before, educating children on healthy food choices and the benefits they offer, but now it's asking children for a far deeper input on the food they consume.

Working in partnership with US healthy eating advocate and non-profit FoodCorps, Sweetgreen is encouraging children to get hands-on with their food by experimenting with different sauces, spices, and flavor combinations, and to learn more about how food is produced, and how balanced and healthy meals are prepared. Through these brainstorming sessions, children can shape the direction in which their school cafeterias are heading, and start ditching the grease for goodness.

"We know that school cafeterias are an incredibly powerful place to connect kids with healthy food," says FoodCorps Cofounder and Executive Director, Curt Ellis. "There are over 100,000 school cafeterias in the country - seven times more than the number of McDonalds."

Final Thoughts

With so many fantastic innovations going on, and more in place for the future, it's no wonder Sweetgreen is being recognized for its work. From innovative growing techniques to improving the health of our children, it's great to see a company like Sweetgreen thriving in such a positive way.


You can hear Sweetgreen's Vice President and Head of Marketing, Meenakshi Nagarajan, speak at Digital Food and Beverage 2019, taking place in July at the Hyatt Regency Austin, TX.

Download the agenda today for more information and insights.