What do you expect to see when you walk up to a vending machine?
Calorific chocolate bars, fatty crisps, sugary drinks, at best a few token healthy products might occupy the bottom row.
It doesn’t have to be this way.
The product market is ever-changing with a vibrant array of snacks and cold drinks entering the market every year. And yet, many vending companies will stick to the old favourites, the traditional selection. This results in thousands of people avoiding vending as the products do not meet their needs.
We are on a mission to bring more options to the public sector. Hospitals, universities, colleges, leisure centres and travel hubs can all offer products for everyone, through healthy vending machines. In fact, in many ways, it is a responsibility for vending companies. We offer the single most convenient way to provide refreshments. For shift workers, vending can be the only option during non-social hours. For university library’s with students working late, it can be the most viable refreshment solution. And for busy travel hubs, with thousands of passengers passing through every day, grab and go coffee is ideal.
It’s not just the vending industry making changes…
The food and beverage industry are starting to acknowledge that there are benefits to providing options for everyone. You can now find dedicated free from isles in supermarkets and entire menus in restaurants. Offering a wide variety of products opens up the consumer possibilities and not only does the organisation get more custom but people have better access to decent food and drink.
Whilst there is a significant difference between the two, it is vitally important to provide options for those who have requirements whether through choice or need. But more than that, with the vast array of products within reach, there is no excuse not to. Several reasons justify why someone would follow a particular diet or lifestyle. Often it is for the benefit of their health, but sometimes it is a choice, based on ethical or religious beliefs. It is important to have some understanding of what these choices/requirements are.
Firstly, there are allergies and intolerances. An allergy is usually defined as a specific response by the immune system to a substance which has been mistaken as harmful. Allergies can include milk, eggs and peanuts and a reaction can be serious or life-threatening. A food intolerance can cause some of the same symptoms as an allergy but tends to be linked to the digestive system. Main symptoms for an intolerance include bloating and tummy pain.
Free-from food encompasses products with recipes that exclude certain ingredients that a consumer could have an intolerance or allergy to. These items include dairy-free and gluten-free. The latter is particularly important for the 1% of the UK population who are diagnosed coeliac. For this group of people, even a tiny amount of gluten can make them very ill. Gluten-free products can be a relief for those with gluten intolerances. This larger group of people can suffer from symptoms such as stomach cramps and so will avoid gluten. Lactose intolerance and peanut allergies are both examples of health complications leading people to avoid certain products. There are more.
Decisions we make based on our health affect the product market. Aside from this, lifestyle choices are causing huge changes, growing the sector. Over 78% of the UK population now buy free-from products, a stat much higher than those who have allergies or intolerances. What else drives this purchasing decision? Perceived health benefits are one, but others are simply following trends. In addition, this sector or products is providing high-quality nutritious options, and everyone can enjoy them. Increased ranges and innovations have inspired shoppers to purchase free from and in turn, those who used have little options due to intolerances and allergies, now have a wide variety at their fingertips
Lifestyle choices include those who follow a diet based on religious beliefs and those who follow a vegetarian or vegan diet. The choice not to eat meat or exclude animal products completely is often based on ethical beliefs or health concerns but also environmental fears play a big part.
These supposed ‘niche’ diets may be more popular than you think. An estimated 3.5million Brits now follow a free from or vegan diet. Up 360% on 10 years ago. The free from market is meeting this demand, growing by around 38.5% year on year. For people who avoid or remove items from diet once struggled to eat on the go as the products were not available. But struggle no more – these new innovative brands are developing new products every day, and they are delicious too.
Whatever the reason behind the diet, the healthy vending product market has boomed allowing us to cater to everyone’s needs.
Some people follow a more relaxed diet as they can eat and drink what they want. However, there are still certain products they may desire over others. For example, a child could be attracted to brightly coloured packaging. For parents, fruit flakes and low-calorie rice cakes in smaller portion sizes could be the perfect snack for their little ones. A gym-goer would be drawn towards protein-filled options and vitamin drinks while a university student may require some iced coffee during a long study session. Vending machines have a huge capacity and it is possible to provide a huge array of options targeting different consumers. And these can vary from site to site, a leisure centre will have different consumers to a university.
One of the biggest trends we have witnessed is the increased desire for healthy vending machines. Today’s customers are much more aware of the food they eat. As a society, we value high-quality ingredients, more natural and healthier food/drink. At Doozy, we are sent samples of new healthy products every single week. From sparkling drinks to moreish cheesy bites. All of them focus on health benefits and many make sure the recipes are suitable for as many people as possible. Some may be gluten-free, others vegan-friendly and many are both. Having access to healthy products while we are out and about is essential to leading a healthy lifestyle. We all snack, but it doesn’t need to be chocolate bars and crisps.
Technology is getting smarter, and vending is no exception. We can make life a little easier for those with dietary requirements. Nutritional screens can be included with the machines so people can identify the products which suit their needs. Adding card readers to all machines ensures customers can always get access to healthy food and drink when they are out and about
When looking at snacks, the healthy variety is the fasted growing segment. The free-from sector alone is expected to grow by 18% over the next three years.
One thing’s for sure, we do not need to stock our vending machines with traditional products. Instead, we should look for a more balanced menu, which not only includes a huge variety of healthy snacks and cold drinks but options that cater for everyone. Doozy healthy vending machines include a hand-selected menu we can all enjoy.