Foodtech Power Players Innovating Restaurants, Delivery

  • Rising labor and commodity costs put a squeeze on restaurants in 2022.
  • These headwinds forced restaurants to adopt new technologies to thrive and survive.
  • Insider’s 2022 foodtech power players are helping restaurants elevate their digital business.

The foodtech sector grew at a fast clip in the pandemic’s first year as restaurants turned to online-ordering tools, virtual brands, and ghost kitchens to reach consumers. But sunny skies turned stormy in 2022 as the restaurant industry faced headwinds tied to market volatility, a labor shortage, and record inflation.

Ghost kitchens, virtual brands, and online-ordering startups are now morphing to survive and stay relevant post-lockdown. Restaurant operators are looking for tech that improves profits through voice-ordering bots, kitchen automation, and tech that cracks the code of navigating third-party-delivery fees.

“The rising costs of supplies, labor, and rent, have put a squeeze on the food service industry’s already slim profit margins,” CB Insights wrote in a September industry report. “With these challenges, investing in solutions that can boost profit and increase efficiency is more important than ever.”

Insider’s 2022 list spotlights foodtech leaders who are helping restaurants take their digital business to the next level as they face a looming recession. They are working behind the scenes to help some of the industry’s most iconic companies, brands, and hospitality legends — such as José Andrés, Danny Meyer, Chipotle, Popeyes, DoorDash, Wendy’s, and Arby’s.

Like with last year’s inaugural list, Insider’s retail team selected winners based on nominations and our deep reporting on the sector. The editorial team focused on new nominees this year, so the list contains no repeats from the inaugural 2021 list, with the exception of two power players – authors Carl Orsbourn and Meredith Sandland. Both are being recognized this year for their roles in leading two separate tech endeavors.