Ocado has acquired a minority stake in a robotics start-up it says has the “potential to revolutionise” the preparation of ready-to-eat meals.

Karakuri’s machines automate the assembly of ready-to-eat meals in the fast, casual, healthy food sector.

The machines will be used to assemble a wide range of food-to-go boxed meals and can use up to 48 food items to create various options.

Ocado has invested £4.75m in an 18% share of the company and will have a seat on the board. If Ocado meets pre-agreed targets in the take-up of Karakuri’s technology, it will then be given a right to purchase additional shares in the company.

The etailer also reported that it is building a second customer fulfilment centre for Canadian grocery chain Sobeys, which it signed an exclusive partnership with last year. Under the agreement, Sobeys will use Ocado’s technology and logistics capabilities to deliver online groceries.

Ocado chief executive Tim Steiner said: “Ocado is constantly striving to identify the best and most innovative solutions to provide consumers with the greatest possible value, choice and convenience.

“Our investment in Karakuri, potentially a game-changer in the preparation of food-to-go, gives us the opportunity to bring the best of innovation to the benefit of our own customers as well as those of our partners.”

Karakuri chief executive Barney Wragg said the technology aims to “minimise food waste, packaging and distribution costs and all of the associated environmental impact”.

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