OCS innovation doesn't end with K-Cups; On-demand cold drinks?

A lot of exciting things are happening today, and it’s not all happening on the vending side. There is just as much innovation going on with application to OCS as there is for vending.

Hence, I’m troubled to hear so many OCS operators complain about K Cup prices. The single cup explosion is still in its early stages, and K Cups are only one part of a much bigger picture.

OCS introduced single cup to the coffee market, and the consumer segment of the market has caught on. You can’t blame single cup providers for wanting to get in on the bigger market. And as I’ve noted before, consumer awareness supports the at-work demand.

What many OCS operators are missing today is that technology doesn’t stand still. Portion pack revolutionized OCS because it took quality and convenience to a new level. But it didn’t end there. As product and equipment manufacturers got wind of changing customer tastes, they went to work on new innovations.

Last month, VendingMarketWatch reported that Walmart is introducing a single-serve system that utilizes “drop and drink” technology. The “drop and drink” system resembles systems used by some other brewers . The one Walmart is using is a liquid-based coffee, which has yet to prove itself.

But the system Walmart is using, the Esio Beverage System, expands beyond hot beverages and also offers cold beverages, such as teas, juices, sports drinks and water. All in one dispenser, with no cross contamination (presumably).

Forbes Magazine commented that Walmart’s move could give Green Mountain Coffee Roasters Inc. a run for single-serve coffee market dominance.

This certainly remains to be seen. But what about the market for on-demand, cold beverages at work? That’s a place OCS has largely been missing in action since the demise of the Coca-Cola BreakMate.

If “drop and drink” technology can in fact deliver both hot and cold beverages in a convenient, safe, cost efficient way, some serious growth could be in store for the worksite refreshment services industry.

The refreshment services industry has largely ignored the on-demand, cold beverage refreshment side of the business since the demise of the BreakMate. This is inexplicable.

Are you aware of the market?

Have you heard about SodaStream, the countertop home soda maker that lets you make sparkling water and soda from home?

Does it make sense that the consumer products industry is ahead of the worksite refreshments industry with on-demand cold beverages? Can’t the worksite sector learn from the at-home sector just as the at-home sector has adapted our industry’s hot beverage technology?

Stop worrying about K Cup prices. There’s too much opportunity on the horizon in refreshment services.