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Contactless Environment Drives Cooking Bots Adoption: 4 Picks

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The restaurant industry faced an unprecedented challenge due to the coronavirus pandemic. Globally, restaurants and cafeterias were completely shut during the lockdown period. Even in the reopening phase, such places were allowed to operate with minimum staff and high restrictions. This led many restaurants to permanently shut down, with hundreds of employees losing their jobs.

With the future remaining uncertain, many eateries and fast-food chains have started to look for safer and cost-efficient options in the arena of cooking and service robots.

Automation Helps Restaurants Adjust With ‘New Normal’

Technological advancement due to research and development backed by significant funding has been constantly supporting the robotics industry. There has been high demand for robots in various sectors, as the pandemic led to imposition of social-distancing norms, limiting employees and staffs in factories, offices, warehouses and even in restaurants.

Cooking robots have been a hype in some Asian countries, however, they were mostly being used for robot-themed restaurants or wending machines so far. With the pandemic restricting human interactions, cooking and service bots are gaining importance. Moreover, these cooking bots have high adaptability to changing temperature and applications and with better R&D, have improved sensitivity like gripping and can manage challenges and repetitive tasks with ease. These also offer an added bonus, which is round-the-clock service without monitoring.

Even before the pandemic, Chowbotics’ Sally, a refrigerator-sized robot that makes a variety of salads and bowls, was in trend in several parts of the United States. Before 2020, the company had sold around 125 of its $35,000 robots to hospitals and colleges. Since the pandemic, its sales have jumped nearly 60%. In fact, there has been high demand in grocery stores, senior living communities and even the U.S. Department of Defence for the bot.

These cooking and serving bots have the capability to operate 24 hours for weeks without supervision and would help eateries operate for extended hours with minimum to no staff at all. For example, In Chennai, India, the RoboChef is a fully-automated kitchen that can provide more than 800 recipes without any manual aid. The robot developed by Robotic Kitchen India is fully automated with IOT metrics, providing round-the-clock monitoring facilities and maintains hygiene with zero carbon dioxide emissions. The robot requires low maintenance and nearly zero manpower.

With several other countries adopting such robots for daily operation, the cooking robotics segment is expected to see a dramatic surge in the upcoming days. Per a Research Nester’s report, the global cooking robotics market generated $86,170 thousand in 2019 and is expected to see a CAGR of 16.09% from 2020 to 2028. The jump in this segment will be due to emergence of robotics technology like Articulated Robotic instructional system (AUTAREP) manipulator, which will provide essential services like food preparation, food production, handling, serving, management, and more.

Earlier in July, fast-food restaurant operator White Castle announced a partnership with Miso Robotics for its robotic chef, Flippy, which can flip burgers and work the deep fryers section to help boost productivity and ensure better quality. The robot has been helpful in operating the 24-hour restaurant chain, especially during late-night shifts when staff were difficult to find. Flippy's robots can prepare more than 360 baskets of fried food per day. After successful trails across several stores, White Castle plans to install 10 more bots by 2021.

The pandemic has led to a surge in demand for cooking robots to create virus-free kitchens in the United States. Per a Research Nester report, the cooking robotics market is estimated to garner revenues of around $50,240 thousand in the country. Much of the demand will be boosted by emergence of robotics for pizza, sandwich & burger making, cocktail preparations, salad decoration and serving.

Recently, KFC in Korea partnered with Hyundai Robotics to create robot cooks for the chain's restaurants.

4 Robotic Stocks to Buy

Given the current growth in the robotics industry we have shortlisted four stocks that can make the most from this boom.

iRobot Corporation (IRBT - Free Report) designs, builds and sells robots. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is 18.9% against the Zacks Industrial Automation and Robotics industry’s projected earnings decline of 5.6%.

The Zacks Consensus Estimate for this Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy) company’s current-year earnings has been revised 44.1% upward over the past 60 days. You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank stocks here.

Teradyne, Inc. (TER - Free Report) designs, develops, manufactures, sells and supports automatic test equipment. It owns Universal Robots and deals in collaborative robotics.The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the current year is nearly 57% against the Zacks Electronics - Testing Equipment industry’s projected earnings decline of 15.3%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for this Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) company’s current-year earnings has been raised 16% over the past 60 days.

Cognex Corporation (CGNX - Free Report) provides machine vision products that capture and analyze visual information in order to automate manufacturing and distribution tasks. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the next quarter is 75% compared with the Zacks Electronics - Testing Equipment industry’s projected earnings growth of 5.3%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for the company’s current-year earnings has been raised 1.4% over the past 60 days. Cognex Corp holds a Zacks Rank #2.

Regal Beloit Corporation designs, manufactures and sells electric motors, electrical motion controls, and power generation and transmission products. The company’s expected earnings growth rate for the next quarter is 20.6% against the Zacks Manufacturing - Electronics industry’s projected earnings decline of 35.2%. The Zacks Consensus Estimate for this Zacks Rank #2 company’s current-year earnings has been raised 1.5% over the past 60 days.

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