The impact of technology on foodservice

Operators say technology has made their work lives easier.

Jack Batten, chef manager at il Creations, a government foodservice contractor based in Maryland, observes that today even his daily sales and purchase reports are submitted directly to the corporate office through the use of technology. “When I went to culinary school they didn’t use computers for anything; now they’re everywhere,” he says.

For Kenneth Smith, director of nutrition and hospitality services at the Regional Medical Center of San Jose, in California, keeping up with emerging technology is a necessary part of the job but finding the time to do so is challenging. “I work for a billion-dollar hospital corporation, and new technology is always being introduced to use,” he explains. 

Despite the technology available, food still requires preparation methods that technology won’t ever be able to perform. “We’re a foodservice provider; we’re still going to prepare a piece of chicken in a conventional manner, but communication about that piece of chicken, the ordering process, and the nutrient information and allergen information is easy for various members of the organization to access [through technology],” Klos explains.

We asked operators to rate their level of agreement with several statements regarding technology on a six-point scale, where six was “agree completely” and one was “do not agree at all.” The following percentages are for those who strongly agree with this statement (rated a six or five).

85%: “Technology has had a positiveimpact on my foodservice department.” Operators in schools (92%) and hospitals (89%) were the most likely to strongly agree. 

81%: “Technology has made my job easier.” School respondents were the most likely to strongly agree with this statement (89%), while only 75% of college respondents gave it that rating.

62%: “Technology has made the jobs of my employees easier.” Schools were significantly more likely than other segments to strongly agree (78% versus 59%, respectively).

44%: “It is hard to keep up with emerging technology.” Those who are 45 or older (50%) and females (49%) are more likely to strongly agree with this statement than those less than 45 years old (27%) and males (38%).

12%: “I do not understand enough about new technology to take advantage of it in my operation.” Conversely, 61% of operators strongly disagree with this statement (rated two or one) indicating they understand enough about new technology to take advantage of it. This was even more apparent among schools, where significantly more people strongly disagreed with this statement (71%) versus those in all other segments (59%).