Two key trends emerged during the recent NAMA OneShow in Las Vegas, hosted by the National Automated Merchandising Association. First, a renewed focus on health and nutrition - fueled by factors such as greater consumer engagement, nutrition and health activism and regulation - has shaped product offerings throughout the food and beverage vending industry. Second, it is clear that vending equipment manufacturers and industry suppliers recognize the necessity of making vending interactions with customers more experiential. The following is part one in a two part series examining these two trends.
On the health and nutrition front, industry leaders are addressing challenges and opportunities in a number of ways. One example is availability of a wider variety of product sizes, with the lower calorie content of smaller portioned products emphasized in package labeling and vending machine graphics. Another example is the rapid expansion of the relatively new category of specialized vending of food and beverage products exclusively targeting the health-conscious consumer. Vending machines in this category offer only items with perceived health or nutrition benefits compared to those traditionally found in vending machines. Products such as natural foods, health food bars, fruit and beverage drinks and even nutrition supplements like vitamin-infused or other specialty waters/beverages are common in the category. With consumers increasingly on-the-go, and information about health and wellness more readily available than ever before, specialty vending targeting busy individuals who desire to maintain their pursuit of wellness seems certain to experience continued growth.
Sealed Air’s Cryovac® brand was pleased to participate in the NAMA show with one of our vending industry partners, equipment manufacturing leader Jofemar USA. This collaboration brings together the strength of Jofemar in creating functional and easy-to-use vending equipment and the Cryovac® packaging brand’s expertise developed through years of research into how materials perform within microwave ovens’ unique cooking environment. The combination shows great promise for delivering more healthful options in the vending market. Several machines on display stocked gourmet meals and snacks packaged in Cryovac® Simple Steps® microwaveable material. These included healthy choices such as salmon and fresh cut asparagus, broccoli or other vegetables or Chicken Picatta with wild rice and cranberry garnished green beans. The packaging provides protection for refrigerated or frozen food products during storage and can be heated in the microwave without puncturing, removing or otherwise modifying the film. The unique packaging self-vents and provides steam-assisted cooking, making it ideal for evenly cooking healthy produce or meat items that don’t typically fare as well in other microwave cooking formats.
Taking such an approach to the vending market offers several advantages, including ensuring consumers of consistent product quality, flavor and freshness while delivering the ultimate in heat-and-eat convenience. Machines and packaging tailored to work in concert have helped develop opportunities for vending more nutritious meal and snack items, often with profit-producing higher price points – a great selling point for operators looking to take advantage of the latest consumer trends but wary of taking risks with the bottom line.