Taco Bell and Pizza Hut apply AI to fast food

  • Yum Brands, the operator of KFC, Pizza Hut, Taco Bell, and The Habit Burger Grill restaurants, is embracing technology with plans for “AI-powered” fast food.
  • Since the 2019 coronavirus pandemic, many fast-food chains have been increasing their investments in technologies such as digital ordering and drive-thrus.

Yum Brands has a vision for “AI-powered” fast food in which artificial intelligence shapes nearly every aspect of how its Taco Bell, Pizza Hut, KFC, and Habit Burger Grill restaurants are run.

Applying AI-power in fast food

According to the Wall Street Journal, Yum’s chief digital and technology manager Joe Park said, “The company has been increasing investment in technology and automation, with about 45%, or $30 billion, of sales being digital – nearly twice what it was in 2019.”

Park’s vision is for every step of the fast food restaurant’s operation, AI should come first. “If you think about the major journeys within a restaurant that can be AI-powered, we believe it’s endless,” he said.

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Cost-saving purposes

With California’s new minimum wage law taking effect on Monday, which means most fast-food workers will make US$20 an hour, most restaurant operators are turning to artificial intelligence to cut costs and boost sales.

For fast food giants like Yum, the aim of using AI is not just to improve the customer experience, but also to save on labour costs.

Yum’s SuperApp

Many fast-food chains have been increasing investment in technologies like digital ordering and more drive-thrus since the COVID-19 pandemic.

Yum developed a mobile application called SuperApp, which aims for restaurant managers to track and manage operations—Park calls it “a coach in your pocket”.

Park said SuperApp, which is currently in use at more than 8,700 Pizza Hut and KFC shops, aims to connect technology systems so franchisees can order ingredients and schedule shifts without leaving the app.

SuperApp can also be updated as features are developed, such as the use of augmented reality tools to teach employees how to make new products like Pizza Hut Melts.


Jennifer Yu

Jennifer Yu is an junior reporter at BTW Media covering artificial intelligence and products. She graduated from The University of Hong Kong. Send tips to j.yu@btw.media.

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