Healthy Vending Is Trending

Dec. 14, 2017

The call to incorporate healthier food in vending is being pushed harder than ever. Adult obesity in the U.S. is still a prevalent issue, at 36.5 percent in 2011-2014 and affecting more than a third of adults, according to the CDC. This has led to food mandates. Per the Glendale News Press, Glendale, CA will be swapping chips and soda in vending machines for things such as nuts, fruits, and veggies, after a unanimous 5-0 vote of the city council. The Maryland State Senate is also considering implementing healthy food standards for their vending machines. I found several news releases and articles about vending going healthy including NAMA's FitPick program, which has helped vending operators and consumers identify products that meet recognized nutrition guidelines.   

Another healthy vending trend that's showing up lately is salads in vending machines. This is a great example of healthy vending that isn't mandated, but rather adapting to what consumers are interested in.  Chowbotics has a great new vending machine, dubbed "Sally the Salad Robot." This machine can make the user a seven-ingredient salad from things such as kale, red cabbage, chicken, peppers and more. Another example is Farmer's Fridge, which vends salads from a specially designed kiosk. What a great way to get a fast nutritional fix! 

What's next in healthy vending 

While there are many healthy food trends to watch, the one that I think will affect operators most is clean / clear labeling. I've talked with my family and friends, and they want to be able to see exactly what's in their food, especially whether or not it is non-GMO, whether it's vegan, and has Fair Trade certification. Consumers are seeking greater on-label visibility in general.  

Another way to look at healthy vending regulation is that it's helping operators follow the trends that consumers are setting. Will these trends last? As far as I can tell, there will continue to be healthy trends in vending and micro markets, alongside the products for those who want to satisfy their sweet tooth with a classic candy bar.