The innovative technology solution provides safe food accessibility in retail locations or offices, securing support through NRC IRAP as well as winning the Shibuya Food Tech Challenge for Social Innovation
Vancouver, BC, November 25, 2020 — UpMeals, the leading white-label prepared-meal solution for businesses, has launched the first SmartVending Meal Solution in BC. UpMeals is a revolutionary system that delivers healthy, custom meals created by professional chefs and registered holistic nutritionists. These individual, sustainably-packaged meals are specifically tailored to each organization’s needs and goals. Meals are available 24/7 through innovative touch screen SmartVending machines or traditional fridges in retail locations. UpMeals is currently in the midst of a funding round where they have raised $400,000 CAD to date with participation from high-profile investors such as Robert Angel, the creator of Pictionary, and private equity investors. The round will be closing at the end of November.
This concept is the brainchild of Drew Munro, a professional Vancouver-based caterer, and Ryan Angel, a Red Seal Chef and Registered Holistic Nutritionist. They 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 a flexible 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 the 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. UpMeals 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.”
In addition to their current round, UpMeals recently secured support from the Canadian government through The National Research Council of Canada Industrial Research Assistance Program (NRC IRAP) to develop and bring to market the UpMeals App. They were the winners of 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.
UpMeals uses proprietary software, powered by 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. In Vancouver, UpMeals has partnered with Vancouver Food Runners who distribute these unused meals to those in need. Businesses that use UpMeals can partner with any charity they choose, creating a zero waste solution.
Robust features provide the ability to offer instant promotions, and an intelligent scan system stores best-before-date of each product, and powerful analytics that are fully customized to fit each retail location or company’s experience. The innovative refrigerated machines feature a 49 inch, 4K interactive screen with a built-in computer module and custom management software. The company has big expansion plans, too. Its technology can retrofit into most major vending machines around the world, allowing UpMeals to seamlessly integrate into new markets and local payment processing options.
UpMeals menu items are created by chefs and nutritionists that focus on incorporating local, seasonal ingredients, and all meals are sustainably packaged in compostable or recyclable containers. 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. Each meal is good for three to four days and the food is replaced by the UpMeals team as it gets close to its expiry date.
“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 Robert Angel, UpMeals investor, advisor, and inventor of the game Pictionary. “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.” While the UpMeals Smart Vending concept was developed prior to COVID-19, providing an onsite, hands-free meal solution is extremely valuable in today’s landscape for employees that are required to be at a physical location.
UpMeals has provided meal solutions to Vancouver-based businesses including Body Energy Club, SPUD.ca, Waves, FreshPrep, Telus, and plant X, since 2018. Recently, they have launched partnerships with OCO Meals and Modern Meat.
UpMeals is a food accessibility solution on a mission to make healthy, nutritious meals available 24/7 via SmartVending machines or grab & go retail bars. They provide custom, healthy, sustainably packaged meals that meet the highest food safety standards. Each meal is professionally white-labeled to create beautifully branded meals and SmartVending interfaces. A custom app provides data and feedback on sales and food availability so the business can make informed decisions and reduce waste.