Starbucks Just Made Your Coffee Experience More Innovative

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When Starbucks (SBUX) announced the closure of all of its 379 Teavana stores by the spring of 2018, it came as a warning signal to many analysts. But for long-term investors, Starbucks future growth prospects could look more promising. Acquired in 2012 for $620 million, Teavana stores are set to close due to declining foot traffic in malls. As a result of this retrenchment, Starbucks incurred asset impairment and goodwill charges of roughly $100 million during the third quarter. Following the news, Starbucks shares fell 1.2% to $58.80 in after-hours trading.


McDonald's doubles down on AI: Firm acquires voice-tech startup to improve its interactive menus

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Fast food chain McDonald's has made yet another push into the world of automation. The company on Tuesday revealed it is acquiring conversational technology startup Apprente with a plan to integrate its systems with services such as drive-thru menus, self-order kiosks, and the mobile app. It comes just months after the fast food giant began rolling out AI-powered menus at hundreds of its locations across the United States, using the technology to make more precise menu suggestions. McDonald's on Tuesday revealed it is acquiring conversational technology startup Apprente with a plan to integrate its systems with services such as drive-thru menus, self-order kiosks, and the mobile app McDonald's President and CEO Steve Easterbrook said the latest acquisition will make it'simpler and even more enjoyable for crew members to serve guests.' Back in March the company acquired Israeli digital startup Dynamic Yield with similar plans to improve the customer experience using AI.


GROCERY SHOPPING Amazon plunks down $14B for Whole Foods

FOX News

E-commerce giant Amazon (AMZN) announced Friday it will snap up struggling grocery chain Whole Foods Market (WFM) for $42 per share in an all-cash deal valued about $13.7 billion including debt. "Millions of people love Whole Foods Market because they offer the best natural and organic foods, and they make it fun to eat healthy," said Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos in a statement. "Whole Foods Market has been satisfying, delighting and nourishing customers for nearly four decades – they're doing an amazing job and we want that to continue." Under the deal, Whole Foods will continue to operate stores under its independent brand and the company's CEO and founder, John Mackey will remain in his position. Mackey said the partnership allows the Austin, Texas-based food retailer to continue efforts to bring high-quality foods and convince to its customers across America.


A Toothpaste Club? Colgate to Invest in Online Startup

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

Colgate, which has been selling its namesake product since 1873, is close to a deal to acquire a minority stake in Hubble, people familiar with the matter say. The two-year-old New York company currently sells contact lenses in brightly colored boxes online. As part of the deal, Hubble would develop new online subscription avenues for some of Colgate's products, the people said. The first one, focused on oral care including teeth whitening, is expected to start as soon as this year, while others in areas like pet food remain under consideration, the people said. The two companies will share revenue from the ventures.


Kitchen disruption on the horizon as tech firms add AI, big data to food production

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON - Looking for that perfect recipe, or a new flavor combination that delights the senses? Increasingly, players in the food industry are embracing artificial intelligence to better understand the dynamics of flavor, aroma and other factors that go into making a food product a success. Earlier this year, IBM became a surprise entrant to the food sector, announcing a partnership with seasonings maker McCormick to "explore flavor territories more quickly and efficiently using AI to learn and predict new flavor combinations" by utilizing data collected from millions of data points. The partnership highlights how technology is being used to disrupt the food industry by helping develop new products and respond to consumer preferences and offer improved nutrition and flavor. "More and more, food companies are embracing digitization and becoming data-driven," said Bernard Lahousse, co-founder of Foodpairing, a startup with offices in Belgium and New York that develops digital food "maps" and algorithms to recommend food and drink combinations.