IDDBA 2023 offers up a bread bot, AI salad bar and virtual meat slicer

Grocery store professionals were wowed by high-tech innovations at this year’s expo.
Eric Wilkinson, vice president of software and product for Wilkinson Baking Company, explains the BreadBot at the 2023 International Deli Dairy Bakery Association Expo. / Photo courtesy: Timothy Inklebarger

Thousands of grocery professionals gathered in Anaheim, California, this week for the 2023 International Deli Dairy Bakery Association Expo, where they were treated to workshops from industry thought leaders, thousands of products and services from across the globe and talks with celebrities like chef Alton Brown, TV host Padma Lakshmi and cultural icon Tom Hanks. 

But it was the technology at the show that took center stage for many, with the rollout of new innovations in artificial intelligence, robotics and automated systems. Attendees got their first glimpse of a so-called BreadBot by Wilkinson Baking Company, which pumped out 10 fresh loaves an hour, while a robotic barista by tech startup Bruu Bros. made lattes and cappuccinos for thirsty attendees. 

A rose-colored box the size of an oversized ice cooler rolling around the exhibition floor might end up being the future of grocery and restaurant delivery, at least that’s what tech company Coco Delivery is hoping for. Their remote-controlled delivery carts utilize sidewalks rather than roadways and help reduce carbon emissions, according to Carl Hansen, the company’s VP of government relations.  

Those were just a few of the new tech innovations grocers can expect to see in the next few years. We caught up with them and several others to learn more about what could be coming down the road in grocery tech. 

Coco Delivery  

The Santa Monica, California-based tech company is looking to disrupt delivery service with its small, remote-controlled carts. “If you’re in Santa Monica, you won’t walk a block without seeing one of these,” Hansen told Winsight Grocery Business. “It’s saving merchants and customers money, and it’s much more sustainable.” 


Co-founder and CEO Patrik Hellstrand said his modular smart salad bar enables grocers to offer healthy foods for a lower price. Customers can also learn more about the nutritional qualities of their salad bar selections via an informational monitor at the end of the bar. “It’s very informative for consumers, so they know what they’re eating,” he said. 

Look On Media 

Step into a virtual world for your first lesson in cleaning a deli counter meat slicer via this high-tech training module; walk away with all your fingers and you get to level up. Look On Media does more than just meat slicer training, but it used the program as an example of how the company can develop various scenarios for any part of the store.  

Wilkinson Baking Company 

The company’s BreadBot was one of the highlights of the show, often drawing a crowd with its considerable size and the wafting scents of just-baked loaves. Eric Wilkinson, vice president of software and product, said the tech company has the bot in 10 stores now. “Most stores start up at 5 a.m., get production going and every six minutes, you can keep restocking it,” he said.   

Bruu Bros 

This robotic coffee shop on wheels is the brainchild of college friends Avya Shukla and Sanat Sharma, who realized there weren’t enough coffee shops on campus. Their coffee robot, as they call it, can go almost anywhere, including grocery stores, according to the duo.



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