The recent announcement that a Netherlands-based company called A 1 Concepts will be opening a U.S. headquarters in the Atlanta, Ga. area in the third quarter has gained a lot of coverage in the last two days.
The company has been growing throughout Europe since its launch about three years ago, according to www.pizzamarketplace.com, a Website that covers the pizza industry.
Automatic merchandising industry veterans have seen pizza machines come and go over the years. The concept has never succeeded in the U.S.
Based on the pizzamarketplace.com interview, this “Let’s Pizza” machine contains a specially developed bag of flour and a bag of mineral water. Every time a customer orders a pizza, the machine will start making the dough, then shape it into a crust, and top it with organic tomato sauce. Next, one of the toppings is placed on top and the pizza is ready for the oven.
The automatic merchandising industry has to be open to new concepts. Technology is changing many aspects of automatic merchandising.
At the same time, the industry cannot ignore the lessons of the past. Food systems that prepare and serve hot food have found very limited application in the U.S.
A 1 Concepts cites its 2.5-minute pizza serving time as a unique feature. Clearly, they have a lot to learn about the U.S. vending consumer.
While our industry has to be open to new possibilities, it also has to pay careful attention to its reputation. Many of us can remember the barrage of nationwide publicity in a pizza machine scam in the mid 1990s.
The economics of a technologically advanced food vending machine serving a limited product selection have yet to be proven.