As the country emerges from the COVID-19 pandemic, many Americans are beginning to return to work in person. In the last two years, consumers have developed new habits and different food and flavor preferences. Manufacturers have continued to provide operators with equipment and products that will help them broaden their offerings, especially as companies look to operators to help incentivize employees back to the office.
This year, Automatic Merchandiser asked vending, micro market and OCS operators to vote for their most successful or most requested products and equipment that were introduced in 2021. The winners in 11 categories — salted snack, healthy, protein & meat snack, cold beverage, equipment, cookie & pastry, candy, food, technology, OCS product, OCS equipment & systems — are consistent with market trends for bolder flavors, smarter technology and premium ingredients.
The winners are: Dot’s Pretzels Honey Mustard, Soley Dried Organic Mango Pieces, Righteous Felon Craft Jerky, Celsius Holdings Tropical Vibe, 365 Retail Markets PicoMarket, McKee Foods Debbie Star Crunch, Van Wyk Confections Sweet & Salty Pretzel Rods, White Castle Chicken and Cheese Slider, Panoptyc, Alliant Coffee Solutions Authentic Donut Shop Drive Thru Soft Coffee Pods, and BUNN Fast Cup.
You can also read more about the runners-up here.
Dot’s Pretzels LLC took home the gold medal with the most votes in the Salted Snack category. The company expanded its line of pretzel twists with the new Honey Mustard variety.
Following in a close second place is Deep River Snacks’ Zesty Lime kettle cooked chips featuring a bold lime flavor. These chips contain no artificial flavors, colors or preservatives and are cooked only in sunflower oil.
For customers looking for a healthy grab-and-go solution, look no further than Solely’s new Dried Organic Mango Pieces made with just one ingredient –
Musselman’s Apple Sauce in cups and pouches from Knouse was the runner-up in the Healthy category.
PROTEIN & MEAT SNACK
According to Food Insight’s 2021 survey, “From ‘Chemical-Sounding’ to ‘Clean’: Consumer Perspectives on Food Ingredients,” Americans are paying more attention to ingredient lists, selecting clean ingredients over chemical-sounding ingredients.
Coming in second place is Baja Jerky Street Taco flavor.
In July 2021, Celsius Holdings launched its newest flavor, and the winner in AM’s Cold Beverage category, Tropical Vibe. A combination of starfruit and pineapple,
RISE Brewing Co. Original Black Cold Brew Coffee Multi-Serve was the runner-up in the Cold Beverage category.
In the Equipment category, 365 Retail Markets’ PicoMarket took home the gold. The 365 PicoMarket appeals to both small and large locations.
The runner-up in the Equipment category was API Tech’s Smart Pizza vending machine.
COOKIE & PASTRY
In the Cookie & Pastry category, McKee Foods received the most votes for its reprise of Little Debbie Star Crunch, a chewy cookie topped with caramel and crispy rice, featuring a coating of fudge. The new individually wrapped cookie is 3-oz., shelf-stable and fresh date coded. They are sold in a 72-ct. case (six caddies/12 wraps per caddie).
Little Debbie parent McKee Foods introduced Little Debbie Vending in 2012 to address the sizes and packages to meet the needs of the convenience channel.
Prairie City Bakery’s new Birthday Cake Ooey Gooey Butter Cake came in second place.
Van Wyk Confections took home gold in the Candy category for its new flavor of Sweet & Salty Pretzel Rods launched in October 2021.
AWAKE Caffeinated Bits from Awake Chocolate was the runner-up in the Candy category.
This year’s winner of the coveted Food category goes to White Castle’s Chicken and Cheese Slider.
Taking second place is J&J Snack Foods’ Pretzel Fillers Buffalo Cheddar Stuffed Soft Pretzel made with Frank’s RedHot. The soft pretzel dough is stuffed with white cheddar cheese infused with Frank’s RedHot hot sauce and lightly dusted with ranch dressing powder.
Panoptyc, this year’s winner in the Technology category, is a game-changer for micro market operators. Panoptyc leverages artificial intelligence through a software and hardware solution to recognize theft and alert the micro market operator of suspicious behavior.
Launched in May 2021, ePort Engage from Cantaloupe Inc. was the runner-up in the Technology category.
Alliant Coffee Solutions’ Authentic Donut Shop Drive Thru soft coffee pods garnered the most votes in the OCS Product category. Alliant Coffee Solutions’ back-to-basics coffee line features a milder taste profile and no-frills packaging for larger work environments that want it at all:
Compostable K-Cup Compatible Coffee Pods from Smile Beverage Werks took second place in the OCS Product category.
OCS EQUIPMENT & SYSTEMS
Coffee consumption has soared to a two-decade high, according to findings from the National Coffee Association (NCA).
Introduced in April 2021, the Elkay Smartwell Touchless Countertop Beverage Dispenser came in second place.
Check out all of these products in the Product Guide at VendingMarketWatch.com/directory.