Ocado, UK, acquired a minority stake in Karakuri, a UK-based robotics company.

Karakuri’s new machine automates the assembly of ready-to-eat meals in the fast, casual, healthy food sector.

The machine can be used in the assembly of all boxed meals, using a configurable, modular design that 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.

The investment in Karakuri gives Ocado the opportunity to expand its value proposition in grocery, especially through Ocado Zoom, and provides Ocado Solutions partners with innovative answers to the challenges of building a strong and profitable food delivery business.

Ocado expects to take delivery of the first of these automated machines in the second half of 2019.

“Ocado is constantly striving to identify the best and most innovative solutions to provide consumers with the greatest possible value, choice and convenience,” says Tim Steiner, chief executive of Ocado. “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.”

“At Karakuri, we are dedicated to providing smart new ways to create and prepare fresh personalized meals. Consumer eating habits in and out of the home are changing rapidly, as demand increases for healthier options that match specific dietary requirements. This growth in menu personalization is putting huge pressure on restaurants, cafés and other food retailers. These providers have historically relied on identically mass produced meals to maintain their profit margins,” adds Barney Wragg, chief executive of Karakuri. “By using robotics and machine learning, Karakuri’s systems provide localized micro-manufacturing within an existing restaurant, retail or commercial kitchen. Our systems prepare personalized meals on-site in real-time and to the exact requirement of each customer. While at the same time our technology aims to minimize food waste, packaging and distribution costs and all of the associated environmental impact.”