Online supermarket Ocado announced it has acquired a minority stake in Karakuri, a robotics start-up with the potential to revolutionize the preparation of ready-to-eat meals. Karakuri’s innovation centers around a new machine that automates the assembly of ready-to-eat meals in the fast, casual, health food sector.
The machine can be used in the assembly of all boxed meals, using a configurable, modular design which can easily be installed in-store or in “dark kitchens”, and can aggregate up to 48 food items to create a wide range of food-to-go options.
Ocado Group’s ventures arm led the GBP7m seed round with an equity investment of GBP4.75m for 18% of the company and will take a seat on the board. If Ocado meets certain pre-agreed targets in the take-up of this technology, it would then be given the right to purchase additional shares in the company.
The investment in Karakuri gives Ocado the opportunity to expand its value proposition in grocery, especially through Ocado Zoom, their new immediacy offer, and also provides Ocado Solutions partners with innovative answers to the challenges of building a strong and profitable food delivery business.
“Ocado is constantly striving to identify the best and most innovative solutions to provide consumers with the greatest possible value, choice and convenience. Our investment in Karakuri, potentially a game-changer in the preparation of food-to-go, gives us the opportunity to bring the best of innovation to the benefit of our own customers as well as those of our partners,” said Tim Steiner, chief executive of Ocado.
Ocado expects to take delivery of the first of these automated machines in the second half of 2019.