Byte Foods Acquires Pantry, Maker Of Intelligent Workplace Fridge

Posted On: 5/17/2016

  • Printer Friendly Version
  • Decrease Text SizeIncrease Text Size
  • PDF


TAGS: micro market, vending, Byte Foods Inc., Pantry Retail Inc., intelligent swipe and grab refrigerators, RFID tag, automated pantry system, Lee Mokri, Megan Mokri

SAN FRANCISCO -- Byte Foods Inc. said it has signed a definitive agreement to acquire Pantry Retail Inc., the hardware and software provider for the intelligent swipe, grab, and go refrigerators that Byte operates in the Bay Area.

Byte, launched last March, licensed Pantry's technology and quickly became its biggest operator, providing a novel, turnkey fresh-food solution for workplaces of all sizes and budgets.

To use the system, customers swipe a credit card to open the refrigerator door and take as many items as they want. They are only charged for what is removed from the fridge; Byte applies an RFID tag to each item to charge the patron.

The automated pantry system eliminates the need for employers to fully bankroll food costs. Byte cofounder Lee Mokri explained that the employer pays a small monthly fee for the service, and can choose to subsidize all, some or no employee food purchases.

"If the company has a food budget of $5,000 a month, for example, they can have us discount the price 50% until it hits $5,000 and then have employees pay full price," he explained. "There is no policing or buildout or honor system, which still exists to a degree with micromarkets."

Byte stocks its 150-plus pantries daily in the Bay Area with a rotating selection of salads, sandwiches, soups and other items from Mixt Greens, Blue Bottle, Urban Remedy, Project Juice, Rustic Bakery, Justin's and Town Kitchen, among other local brands. Its local clients include Chevron, Autodesk, the KQED and CBS television stations, University of California (San Francisco), Sephora and SolarCity.

All food that goes uneaten is donated and redistributed to nonprofit groups and those in need throughout Marin County through Byte's partnership with ExtraFood.org.

"Food at the office is the most popular employee perk and this acquisition uniquely aligns Byte to expand our offering and scale quickly," said Byte chief executive Megan Mokri. "After months of fast growth and a close relationship with the world-class Pantry team, we're excited about the opportunities ahead. Byte is well-positioned to be the most efficient, affordable fresh food solution for offices, and Pantry's technology is a foundational element of our rollout."

Byte also continues to provide service for equipment for Sodexo and Aramark on college campuses through a deal that Pantry had secured. Moving forward, Byte is considering partnering with operators to place and service machines in other markets on a case by case basis and adding new local brands as it continues to expand geographically.

Byte Pantry, micro market, vending
GRAB AND GO: Users swipe a credit card, retrieve their food and/or beverage, and close the door. The intelligent fridge reads the RFID tags on each item to charge the appropriate amount. Local brands are prominently featured, with a rotating menu of fresh foods and beverages stocked daily.