Connected fridges, new canteens 2.0

More economical, connected fridges follow the trend of healthier fast food, with optimization of space and costs, guarantee of success.

Often, the lackluster image of the canteen dates back to childhood. Faced with this, company catering, since 2014, has been trying to change this representation and now offers fresh and local dishes, available to employees in connected fridges. This phenomenon is all the more important because food is a constituent element of the well-being of employees and reinforces the attractiveness of a company.

Faced with traditional collective restaurants, company canteens are reorganizing and turning to a new offer, connected fridges.

This paradigm shift in the restaurant world is now part of the post-Covid context. According to INSEE, the pandemic has had a lasting effect on the traditional collective catering sector with a loss of 40% of turnover in 2020 during the first confinement.

Raphaël Marchant, co-founder of Melchior, a digital catering service, describes “a change that gives more flexibility.» New companies such as Foodles, Popchef, NU! or even Le Bon Bocal have entered this market, offering a digital canteen. But leading collective catering companies, such as Elior or Sodexo, have embraced this new market expectation, also including customer expectations in terms of ecology.

Even Elior, a recognized professional in collective catering, is getting into connected fridges, after its difficulties linked to COVID. Twitter

Offering a digital canteen allows companies to save on the fixed costs that a traditional canteen requires. The flexibility of this type of collective catering also makes it possible to offer ecological guarantees, which sound like guarantees of quality: often local products, in jars or other reusable containers, 2.0 catering companies are betting a lot on this new requirement of customer base.

However, the digital offer cannot meet all the needs of employees: it is therefore accompanied by a “counter” offer, where a catering company worker offers salads and sandwiches, an offer that allows to diversify the products but which has an additional cost.

Limits to 100% digital

Could these 2.0 canteens nevertheless be suitable for large companies with more than a thousand employees? It is certainly essential to note this new need for mobility and flexibility. The fact remains, according to Julien Icard, co-founder of Le Bon Bocal, that the installation of a connected fridge requires an additional offer to be able to satisfy large companies and offer a very varied diet since “no one wants to eat the same thing all the time“.

Sodexo is also banking on flexibility with new forms of catering. Sodexo press release, 2020

Another observation: this digital offer is adopted more by executives in the tertiary sector than by the industrial sector, according to Raphaël Marchant at Melchior. It remains to be seen whether this change could be generalized in all sectors.


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