Fresco, a technology company, has asserted that home cooking has become just as easy and convenient as ordering takeout due to the advent of connected appliances. Ben Harris, CEO and co-founder of the connected cooking platform, stated in an interview with PYMNTS that the objective is to make cooking so intuitive and hassle-free that consumers prefer to prepare their own meals rather than seek ready-to-eat options. “We see ourselves as competing with an Uber Eats or frozen pizza,” Harris said, “We need to make sure the rewards are greater, but the effort is minimized as well, to make sure that it’s an easy choice to decide to cook.”
With consumers demanding more convenience, traditional home cooking has become less popular. Mark Clouse, CEO of Campbell Soup Company, pointed out during an earnings call last month that consumers are no longer willing to spend more than 20 minutes preparing dinner or 10 minutes on lunch. As a result, many consumers are opting for prepared meals. According to research from PYMNTS’ study, “Digital Economy Payments: Consumers Buy Into Food Bargains,” which surveyed almost 2,700 US customers in July, 37% of consumers purchased prepared food on their most recent grocery trip, an increase of seven points from November 2021.
Fresco has released its operating system, KitchenOS, which already includes the Instant Pot Pro Plus on the platform and will incorporate more manufacturers and appliances. Harris explained that the objective is to provide a fully connected kitchen experience that encompasses everything from meal planning to grocery purchasing to cooking, all facilitated through one interface. The software will guide the user on how to prepare the meal. “It’s an entertaining, joyful, happy process,” Harris said. “That’s really our vision and what we’re marching towards.”
Harris argued that existing connected home kitchen appliances have failed to simplify consumers’ lives, despite the smart technology employed, and have not actually reduced the effort usually involved in home cooking. He stated that the restaurant industry is currently thriving, with restaurant sales outpacing grocery sales by a substantial margin. According to US Census Bureau data for February, adjusted bar and restaurant sales amounted to about $93 billion, while adjusted food and beverage store sales were 13% lower, totaling $81 billion.
According to Harris, many young, single consumers now order most of their meals from restaurants, leading to a decrease in “average fluency” in the kitchen. When these individuals start families and want to prepare their own meals, they may require more assistance than previous generations’ parents. Harris cited the increased demand for more convenient cooking options as evidenced by the rise of appliances like Instant Pots and air fryers. “We’re consolidating and unifying what is a regimented stash of brands, appliance companies, and recipe creators into delightful, intuitive processes that will allow you to orchestrate your kitchen with any recipe in a seamless way,” Harris said.