One of the highlights of last week’s BigFive Digital MENA Summit in Dubai was a compact 20-minute conversation on the role of food tech in the metaverse.
At first glance, this seems like a silly idea. Kind of like that scene in The Matrix when Cypher eats a virtual steak while plotting to betray his shipmates.
But while the metaverse might be a virtual environment, the conversation in Dubai was about real food.
Mohamed Al Fayed, Co-founder and CEO of Grubtech, a Dubai-based food tech platform, was joined by industry consultant David Singleton to announce plans for a virtual food hall in the metaverse.
The metaverse, still a bit loosely defined, is essentially a virtual reality environment where consumers can interact with one another, via increasingly sophisticated avatars. Gaming is the most obvious current metaverse application. But metaverse enthusiasts insist it will eventually cross over to all aspects of our work and personal lives, from conferences to shopping to dating and, yes, dining.
Grubtech’s coming metaverse food hall is an environment where our avatars (mirroring our real-world appearance, personality, even clothing) can visit stations in the food hall, place orders, and have the (real, not virtual) food delivered to our homes.
“We are working on it as we speak and expect to launch the trial within the end of Q2 2022,” Al Fayed told us after the conference.
During the talk, Al Fayed cited McDonald's recent application for multiple metaverse food and beverage patents as evidence that the metaverse is here today. It’s not a cool idea that may (or may not) come to pass years down the line.
Al Fayed also boldly asserted during the talk last week that he expects the metaverse to account for a third of his company’s business within the next three years. And he urges all brands to start experimenting today.
“If you are not thinking about your brand’s position on the metaverse, it’s like not looking at your social media presence today,” Al Fayed told us.