- Sodexo on Monday announced three initiatives targeted at college campuses. The foodservice company will add virtual brands, ramen vending machines and checkout-free grocery stores at several campuses.
- The company will deploy three delivery-only virtual brands in partnership with Virtual Dining Concepts, which offers brands like MrBeast Burger, Mariah's Cookies, and Buddy V's Cake Slice, on its Bite mobile app. Sodexo already offers virtual brands for delivery at Gonzaga University. These meals will be delivered via robots.
- Within the last month, Sodexo announced a partnership to bring 1,000 delivery robots to U.S. college campuses and began operating an autonomous Jamba by Blendid machine at Georgia College.
As one of the largest foodservice contractors in the U.S., Sodexo is focusing on increasing the convenience of its offerings. By leveraging digital and technological innovation, the company could edge out competitors on college campuses throughout the country. Digital engagement by younger consumers and density have made college campuses a target for delivery innovation in recent years.
"Students want three things: convenience, choice, and quality — often in that order," Kevin Rettle, global vice president of innovation, digital and universities at Sodexo, said in a statement.
Starting April 6, Sodexo will offer checkout-free grocery shopping at the University of Denver through a partnership with AiFi, an artificial intelligence firm that works with retailers and grocery stores.
Meanwhile, Yo Kai Express, an autonomous vending machine manufacturer, is partnering with Sodexo to deploy ramen and udon noodle machines to several campuses. These machines will offer meals after campus dining halls close, bridging a common gap in university foodservice offerings. Yo Kai Express is already on campuses including New Mexico State University.
"Yo Kai Express kiosks allow guests to place their orders and make payments via touch screen. With this technology, Sodexo is able to provide students with 24/7 access," Sodexo said in a statement.
Sodexo's new offerings and partnerships with delivery and restaurant tech companies highlight the blurring lines between institutional foodservice and changing restaurant offerings. Virtual Dining Concepts, for example, recently partnered with Waitr to offer its virtual brands to partner restaurants.