First 'foodverse' launched in UAE

Metaverse will become the most prominent tool for marketing food brands, founders say


Somshankar Bandyopadhyay

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The Bhukkad Cafe at Silicon Central Mall, Dubai.  - Supplied photo
The Bhukkad Cafe at Silicon Central Mall, Dubai. - Supplied photo

Published: Fri 3 Mar 2023, 4:21 PM

The metaverse will become the most prominent tool for marketing and customer service for food brands, and companies need to move quickly to cash in, says an industry expert.

Supreet Raju and her husband Gaurav Gupta recently launched OneRare, the world’s first food metaverse, or better known as foodverse, in the UAE market.

“In the coming years, food businesses will be expected to have a virtual presence like they are expected to deliver food within an hour,” Raju told Khaleej Times in an interview.

OneRare is creating a metaverse bringing the global F&B industry to Web3 for the first time — allowing them to create virtual experiences, food NFTs and games, and interact with foodies from across the world.

Gaurav Gupta and Supreet Raju, cofounders of One Rare. - Supplied photo
Gaurav Gupta and Supreet Raju, cofounders of One Rare. - Supplied photo

Raju and Gupta have been exploring the blockchain industry together since 2017. While working and researching projects in the market, they noticed a consistent failure in making blockchain products accessible to general audiences. Even simple products were made to sound complex, which attracted no one except developers and tech-geeks. With increasing global interest in crypto & blockchain, they felt the need to create something simple, educational & user-friendly to onboard the next wave of adoption - which culminated into OneRare.

“Metaverse technology will prove to be a game changer across traditional industries. automobile, entertainment, events, tourism — every industry will be leveraging the metaverse to strengthen their digital persona and connect with their audience. With the Foodverse, the F&B industry also charted its place in the metaverse,” Raju said. The idea of the foodverse or food metaverse is to create new opportunities for food businesses to unlock a new level of customer engagement & marketing. With immersive experiences, the Foodverse also provides new avenues to generate revenue, she added.

Over the last few years, UAE has become a hub for Web3. Many entrepreneurs in the space have moved to the UAE because of the forward-thinking government. They systematically support new research & development, helping UAE become a centre of innovation for metaverse development.

NFT of a classic Vada pav.  - Supplied photo
NFT of a classic Vada pav. - Supplied photo

Many businesses across the UAE have dipped their toes into crypto and NFTs. Pickl has started accepting crypto payments and building their virtual restaurant with real-life order features. Popular brand names like The Bhukkad Cafe, China Bistro, Art of Dum, India Bistro, and Cali Poke have launched their signature recipes as NFTs in the OneRare Foodverse. Established names like Papa Johns UAE are gearing up to begin their metaverse journey through Pizza NFTs. Apart from brands, chefs are also making the most of this new technology, beginning with Chef Alexandros Sperxos who released special meal NFTs that were served to diners in an exclusive experience.

“As a brand, you need to be at the forefront of new technologies and constantly innovate for maximum growth. Consumers are tired of the same-old marketing tricks and are getting attracted to brands with an innovative approach,” Raju said.

The food industry is usually considered a traditional industry that does not take immediately to new tech changes. Businesses long considered the scope of innovation in the industry limited to the style of serving or food delivery. “However, with the pandemic forcing businesses to look at exploring digital avenues, we can see a lot more interest and experimentation for Web3 and metaverse. With virtual restaurants that allow diners to reserve tables, minting NFTs to mark special meals and occasions, gamifying custom orders and ordering food via 3D experiences, there is a lot for the food industry to explore. The act of eating food will always be in a physical setting with real food, but we are witnessing a change in the way we access that food and discover the ethos behind it,” Raju said.

“Whether you are a small business or a mega brand, you will have the equal opportunity to build your presence in the foodverse. This will especially help startups in the food industry rapidly grow and build a customer base,” Raju said.

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