SIAL Talks: How can the metaverse revolutionise the food industry?

December 6, 2023

This week’s look back to the SIAL Talks series features Laurent Chrétien, CEO of Komodal, a spin off of Laval Virtual Technologies, described on its website as “the leading provider of services and advice on the metaverse and virtual worlds”. In the talk, Chrétien asserts that this new world represents “the future of sales on the internet”.

The COVID-19 pandemic forced us to shop differently, namely online as most physical stores were forbidden from opening. As a consequence, companies had to figure out new ways to attract shoppers online. Thus started the “beginning of the Komodal adventure”, Chrétien said, using the pandemic as an opportunity to explore virtualisation of commerce.

The brand now helps facilitate the use of virtual worlds, and the metaverse, to create a more immersive experience for customers. “We now have more than 300 events and we’ve had more than 30,000 avatars attending some of our events.”

But what is the metaverse?

Chrétien said that while the metaverse is just “a concept now”, in three, four or five years, “we will see the merging of three elements – blockchain, the special web (featuring virtual worlds and immersive technologies) and the semantic web (the way to get the set of data that you have in the web). He said that within several years, all the websites we use today could disappear, to be progressively replaced by these immersive virtual worlds.

In Komodal’s definition there is only one metaverse – the internet, and virtual world proprietary platforms, such as Facebook’s Meta, within. He said Microsoft would also go this way and move into the Metaverse. Chrétien explained that there are 200 such platforms currently and it is Komodal’s job to help get companies onto those platforms, or create their own, and attract customers.

“If you have to know one thing, it is that the metaverse is gathering people to be evolved to train and educate, to collaborate, to market products and services and to communicate their brand values.”

How can the metaverse help my business?

In his talk, Chrétien maintained that we will see a shift “from E commerce to V commerce”. He said the main uses for the food industry will be around marketing and how brands connect with their audiences.

He gave a number of case studies, which use “several virtual worlds” with the first the being the Foodverse, by a company called OneRare, which is said to “celebrate food from across the world by bringing the global food and beverage industry on to the blockchain for the first time”.

On the platform, according to The National News, celebrity chefs, restaurants and food and beverage brands will be able to create virtual food experiences, launch signature dish NFTs and interact with a global audience, all of whom are hungry for new ways to explore food. It’s just one way that pioneering actors in the food space are engaging with customers in a new, fun and immersive way.

SIAL Talks: How can the metaverse revolutionise the food industry?

Chrétien continued: “So, using this platform, you can create a virtual garden and grow things, and learn to cook, and it’s a way of connecting with a community”.

The speaker cited examples from McDonalds, the American burger chain Wendy’s, Miller-Lite, and the French retailer Carrefour via The Sandbox. He also noted the importance of the online game Roblox for its potential for attracting young people to brands.

“Roblox is a very big platform, with something like 60 million users already. As far as I remember, two thirds of the people are very young, less than 16 years. 1/3 of the of the audience is less than nine years. So brand funds are trying to connect with these young people through Roblox, in the same in the same way McDonald’s with adspace VR, which is a type of platform used mainly with the most part of the virtual worlds. You can access many of these experiences on your computer so it’s quite easy to enter this VR space, although it’s more immersive with a VR headset.”

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