Vending machines to stock healthier items

By Rick Pendrous

- Last updated on GMT

Hot stuff: hot food vending is likely to become much more popular in the UK
Hot stuff: hot food vending is likely to become much more popular in the UK

Related tags: Vending machine

Vending machines are about to undergo a revolution in the UK with new hot and cold food offerings set to create a completely new sales channel for manufacturers.

That’s the view of ‘futurologist’ Dr Morgaine Gaye, who works with a number of leading food and drink brands. Over a three-year time horizon, Gaye claims a 99% success rate for her predictions.

However, in response to widespread criticism about the sale of ‘unhealthy’ food and drink in outlets ranging from hospitals to sports centres, the vending industry is supporting the development of new healthier vending options.

“Vending is really going to come into the UK in a big way,”​ said Gaye, speaking at Leatherhead Food Research’s Taste Trends conference this week (December 3). “It still hasn’t even hit yet. It’s massive in the States; it’s coming through from California in a big way.”

Growth in the use of vending machines will be driven by the trend for us to snack more and eat more often, added Gaye. “We are changing our meal times and we are changing the way we eat.

‘Eating on the go and snacking’

“We are eating on-the-go and we are snacking more,”​ said Gaye. “And there are some brilliant ideas around the world and some interesting things happening in vending.”

She cited Japan as a leader in the field of vending, even selling products that grow up to the point of purchase. Holland and Belgium were also heavily into the vending of hot snacks, she added. “We are going to see a lot more of that coming through. At the moment, we can only really get a soggy sandwich or a bag of crisps but we are going to start seeing hot snack vending being much more available.”

In France, one baker tired of people knocking on his door in the early hours wanting fresh baguettes, even came up with the idea of a par-baked baguette vending machine which finished them off once people had paid for them, before dispensing them hot.

“We are really going to see vending coming into its own in the UK,”​ she said. Everything from freshly prepared and vended juices to warm gluten-free cup cakes would become available, she added.

Healthy snack vending

In response to the lack of healthy snacking choices available in vending machines today, the Automatic Vending Association (AVA)has come together with obesity surgeon Dr Sally Norton, leading food and drink companies and University College Birmingham to create healthier snack products and help promote healthier vending.

Next Tuesday (December 9), the ‘Culinary Product Development Challenge’ is taking place at University College Birmingham. The competition is among third-year students who have developed tasty products containing no more than 250 calories that are suitable for vending. Winners will be selected by judges from Unilever, Mondelēz, 24Vend and Coinadrink.

The winning products will then go on sale at Dr Norton’s Trust – Bristol NHS – as part of a healthy vending trial. The long term vision is for this to be extended across the UK as part of a new generation of healthy vending products.

Related topics: Obesity

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