- ShopRite is piloting Sally, a salad-making robot manufactured by tech firm Chowbotics, at its store in Carteret, New Jersey, the company announced in a press release. Sally gives customers a contactless alternative to the self-service salad bars.
- The robot has 22 ingredients including dressings, fruits, nuts, vegetables and proteins like eggs, chicken and ham. Customers can order a grain bowl, pasta salad or custom salad that contains two base ingredients, up to six toppings, and a dressing. Its chef-recommended recipes include a chicken brown rice bowl and a Cobb salad.
- ShopRite said it hopes to roll out salad bars similar to Sally at other locations.
Sally allows retailers like ShopRite to offer a “salad bar” experience to customers without exposing them to the risks posed by self-serve food stations, which supermarkets had to close down in response to the pandemic.
Customers receive a glove from a dispenser to wear as they tap the screen to order their salad. Later this year, Chowbotics plans to roll out an app that will allow shoppers to place their order on a mobile device and get a QR code which the machine can scan, which will make their transaction completely touch-free.
“Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, my family's ShopRite store was looking for a salad bar solution that was touchless, fresh, and innovative. The current health crisis made it even more of a priority," said Jonathan D’Orsi, vice president of operations at the ShopRite store in Carteret, said in the press release.
Although grocers have largely shut down their salad bars because of the pandemic, they had already begun to see a decline in salad bar usage before the public health crisis started. According to Nielsen data, salad bar sales declined 6.5% last year compared to 2018. Sally could remove the need for workers to refill a whole salad bar daily and reduce waste.
Even after the pandemic ends, customers may never want to go back to eating from a traditional salad bar. Investing in a technology like Sally now prepares ShopRite for shopping habits down the road.
Before arriving at ShopRite, Sally made its grocery debut at a Heinen’s store in Pepper Pike, Ohio. Chowbotics, which told Grocery Dive that prior to COVID-19 grocery stores were not a focus for the company, plans to launch at additional food retailers in the coming weeks.