How Chipotle Is Upgrading Some Kitchens To Combat Food Waste

Estimates for the emerging artificial intelligence (AI) market vary, but the one prediction all experts seem to agree upon is a staggering growth curve in the coming years. Fortune Business Insights, for instance, predicts that the market will grow from $387 billion in 2022 to $1.394 trillion by 2029, with an annual growth rate of about 20%. Bloomberg, meanwhile, is predicting a growth rate of better than 39% annually over the next six years.

AI technology has already been adopted by many top restaurant brands, and the reasons are easy to understand. As Forbes notes, AI technology helps restaurants in various ways, most notably in terms of efficiency — from increased order accuracy to more refined, dialed-in numbers projections for sales, staffing, and inventory. Not surprisingly, major brands like Domino's, McDonald's, and Subway have already started integrating AI into their restaurants.

Chipotle Mexican Grill restaurants have also been early advocates for AI innovations. Earlier this year, for example, the brand, which has more than 3,000 restaurants worldwide, partnered with Miso Robotics on a robotic tortilla chip maker named Chippy, whose first restaurant trial will take place later in 2022, according to the company's press release

Increased efficiency is also the reason for two more innovations Chipotle recently announced.

Chipotle is using AI to improve efficiency, customer experiences

According to a recent PR Newswire press release, Chipotle is debuting two new technologies to improve efficiency. The first is an innovative kitchen system that runs on a digital management platform designed by PreciTaste. The system uses AI to generate up-to-date "demand" projections, providing carefully calculated prompts to kitchen staff on how much of each ingredient to prepare and when. The new system is expected to significantly reduce food waste while maximizing freshness for the benefit of customers. It's now undergoing trials at eight Chipotle locations in Orange County, California.

"The new kitchen management system has alleviated manual tasks for our crew and given restaurant managers the tools they need to make informed in the moment decisions, ultimately enabling them to focus on an exceptional culinary and an outstanding guest experience," notes Curt Garner, Chipotle's CTO, in the press release.

Chipotle is also adding a new technology wrinkle to make its digital app more efficient. For some context, Business Insider observes that digital sales are critical to Chipotle's success, accounting for over $2 billion in revenues last year and nearly half of all sales. To help improve service for these important digital customers, Chipotle is now experimenting with Flybuy by Radius Network location tracking for 73 Ohio-based restaurants. The program is optional, per the press release, but it offers helpful reminders, "readiness" messages, and rewards information for participating customers. It also helps to expedite delivery service.