The terms ‘metaverse’ and ‘NFTs’ have been bounced around a lot lately.
But, even if you have a fairly good grasp of what they mean, there’s still a lot of debate about how the F&B sector can use the metaverse to its advantage.
Many believe that it’s still too early to predict how joining the physical and virtual worlds can be used to benefit the day-to-day business of restaurants, cafes and bars. But, if the metaverse grows to become as huge as many people think it will, it could shake up the landscape of the industry considerably.
So, here are the top five things you need to know about the F&B sector in the metaverse.
1. The metaverse is not a new invention
Before we go into further details, let’s start with the basics.
You might think that the metaverse is a new creation, but actually many people would argue that it has been around for a while.
A high-tech network of virtual spaces, the term metaverse was first used in Neal Stephenson’s 1992 novel Snow Crash.
Technically, anything that involves partially interacting with the digital sphere is done within the metaverse, whether it’s socialising on WhatsApp, playing games or shopping online.
A vague and general term, the metaverse has now been expanded to create a 3D digital world where people can embark on all kinds of adventures and even attend large-scale music concerts or sporting events through artificial intelligence (AI) simulations.
You can access the metaverse either by simply logging on via a computer or phone, or through a virtual reality (VR) headset. Many companies now manufacture these headsets and Meta, formerly known as Facebook, claims to have created one of the most advanced virtual reality headsets ever with its state-of-the-art Oculus VR Series.
2. It offers amazing possibilities for every industry, including the F&B sector
The metaverse is made up of a number of ‘metaworlds’.
With gaming spheres like Roblox, Fortnite, and Minecraft achieving such huge popularity, gaming is largely viewed as one of the largest sectors in the metaverse, followed closely by social interaction, e-commerce, and simulations.
However, F&B professionals have also started exploring the possibility of using the metaverse to combine virtual and physical dining experiences. The notorious burger joint, Pickl has already begun to pave the way in the UAE with their recent announcement on being the first restaurant in the country to enter the metaverse.
Within the metaverse, pretty much everything that happens inside a restaurant or cafe can be replicated (except for actually physically eating or drinking of course). Virtual guests can select a restaurant, browse its menus, order food, pay using Google Wallet or Apple Pay and then wait for their meal to be delivered out in the real world.
3. The immersive advertising opportunities are endless
The advertising and marketing possibilities that the metaverse provides for the F&B sector are also very exciting.
Restaurants, bars and cafes can use it as an impactful and absorbing way of showcasing their menus, and allowing potential guests to browse images, videos and details about their food, drinks and dining areas. This exciting digital experience will then hopefully prompt users to come and visit the restaurant in real life.
F&B businesses can use the metaverse to provide their target customers with a totally detailed and accurate taste of what their product is about, and show them what they can expect in a way that can never be mimicked through a straight forward web or printed text.
4. Artists and chefs can use NFTs to link the worlds of art and food
Within the metaverse, people can purchase and own NFTs (non-fungible tokens).
NFTs are units of digital data which are then stored on the blockchain, the database that securely records and stores information and transactions within the metaverse.
Unlike cryptocurrency, NFTs are all unique and non-interchangeable. NFTs can be associated with easily reproducible items such as photos, videos, audio, and other types of digital files, and blockchain technology provides proof of ownership of each item. NFTs can also be moments in time, or even tweets sent by famous people.
Indeed, Dubai-based Greek chef Alexandros Sperxos recently made headlines across the region when he combined his passion for food and art to create his first collection of NFTs.
His collection of digital artworks featured vibrant and striking glow in the dark dishes such as The Harvest (burrata salad, crispy tomato skin, Greek dehydrated olives and pesto), The Ocean ‘AKTE’ (scallops and citrus foam) and The HUNT Meet Vitamins (Wagyu steak hanging on purple carrot purée, greens buster purée and collagen sauce). He also created two NFT art mocktails (The Art of Vitamin and The Volcano), plus an NFT of himself.
Meanwhile, the world’s first NFT collection dedicated to sustainable eating was revealed back in February at the ‘Out of the Box’ food and beverage event in Dubai.
Created by four Dubai-based artists, the eye-catching NFT artworks celebrated cuisine made with locally produced UAE ingredients, chefs who are reinventing the concept of luxury by using sustainable ingredients and practices, and pastry and gelato dishes that are made with sustainable methods.
5. The metaverse will close the gap between ghost kitchens and customers
Ghost kitchens are another key trend in the F&B sector at the moment and they offer an affordable option for independent and small restaurants.
By allowing dishes to be prepared off site and not physically at a restaurant or café, they enable businesses to operate on a reduced set up and save money on staffing.
Ghost, or cloud kitchens as they are sometimes known, have become increasingly popular since the pandemic, and it’s predicted that the metaverse will help close the gap between these food preparation kitchens and the restaurants they serve.
The metaverse will let restaurant owners go inside different ghost kitchens and explore how their dishes are actually prepared. This will stop ghost kitchens from being faceless entities, and in turn boost their appeal even further.
With the metaverse still in its very early stages, it’s hard for anyone to accurately anticipate the full extent of how it will impact the F&B industry.
However, what we can be certain about is that it will bring countless interesting opportunities that have never been available before.
Chef Middle East is eagerly following its development and we’ll be doing all we can to help our customers make the most of the metaverse and the fascinating ideas it is presenting to the F&B sector.