Vancouver’s UpMeals has launched the first smart vending meal solution in B.C.
UpMeals delivers healthy, custom meals created by professional chefs and registered holistic nutritionists in individual, sustainably-packaged meals specifically tailored to each organization’s needs. Meals are available 24/7 through innovative touch screen SmartVending machines.
This concept is the brainchild of Drew Munro, a professional caterer, and Ryan Angel, a Red Seal Chef and Registered Holistic Nutritionist.
The pair saw a market need for an option that allowed businesses to provide healthy, ready-to-eat meals for their employees or customers, in a scalable, cost-effective way. UpMeals is an alternative to costly traditional catering or meal delivery services. Freshly made meals are delivered weekly to each refrigerated vending machine that can be monitored remotely via an app to determine popularity of menu items and reduce waste.
“I saw the need for an innovative solution like UpMeals to solve some of the traditional problems I experienced in catering,” said Drew Munro, CEO and Co-Founder of UpMeals. “Businesses would come to me asking for a branded food experience but this was often costly and timely to produce. UpMeal’s SmartVending technology and custom branded meals take the heavy lifting out of this process and make the management of healthy food options reliable and easy to access.”
What happens if meals go unused? Any meals that are not sold within their freshness time frame can be donated to local charities that distribute meals to the homeless or sold at a discount. In Vancouver, UpMeals has partnered with Vancouver Food Runners who distribute the unused meals to those in need. Businesses that use UpMeals can partner with any charity they choose, creating a zero waste solution.
UpMeals uses proprietary software, powered by Nelson, B.C.’s SMRT1 Technologies, to provide automation for all levels of the creative, production, ordering and delivery processes. Users can monitor their SmartVending machine remotely, create plans for meals nearing their expiry date and build menus based on the popularity of food items.
UpMeals is in the process of raising a $400,000+ seed round that includes high-profile investors such as Robert Angel, the creator of Pictionary. In addition to their current round, UpMeals recently secured support from the Canadian government through NRC IRAP to develop and bring to market the UpMeals App.
“Health, wellness and ease of access are paramount today but are often difficult to find in one place. The usability and functionality of UpMeals SmartVending interface coupled with its unique ability to monitor customer preferences and reduce overall food waste make it a brilliant solution,” said Angel. “The decision to get involved in UpMeals was easy for me. The industry experts leading the team combined with the timing in bringing this product to market just makes sense.”
UpMeals recently won the Kobe City prize at the international Shibuya FoodTech Challenge for Social Innovation, which will see them work with the city of Kobe, Japan in launching their SmartVending product across the Pacific.