Vending machines…could they really be gourmet?

(18 /02 /2016)

Have you ever bought a can of soft drink or a pack of crisps from a vending machine?  Chocolate bars are my downfall…especially if I’m waiting for a train!  They’re big business and are used to sell everything from junk food, cigarettes, alcohol right through to pre-packaged, fresh food.  And they’re everywhere – train stations, schools, hospitals, gyms, city streets.  They also cater to our increasingly cashless society too – so if you have a credit or debit card, the world is your oyster!

But have ever considered buying fresh meat from a vending machine?  Yes, you read that right – Parisian consumers can now purchase fresh meat from a butcher’s own vending machine.  Check out the article here… http://ausfoodnews.com.au/2016/02/10/vending-machine-selling-raw-meat-now-located-in-the-middle-of-paris.html.

So what do you think?  I have certainly never seen anything quite like fresh meat in a vending machine and to be honest, I’m not sure I’d be keen on it.  But, as in this case, if it’s managed correctly by the seller of the produce, then perhaps I could be persuaded.  It would certainly be convenient especially if I had a hankering to do a lamb roast at 2am!

It’s got me thinking though, what other fresh produce could be sold through vending machines?  Certainly dairy items could work and perhaps pre-packaged lettuce or greens, provided of course, the stock was turned over on a very frequent basis.  Baked goods might require a little more work to ensure freshness.  These are just single items but could there be a market for prepared meals that could be either consumed immediately or taken home for later consumption?

Imagine you have a little café located near a few 24 hour operations, such as a hospital.  Perhaps your vending machine could sell hot, “home cooked” meals such as a casserole, lasagne or lemon meringue pie.  The options are endless!  Could it work?  How much man-power would it require?  And could it add value to your business?

I’m not sure we’re quite there yet for complete meal vending machines but with the introduction of fresh food vending machines, I’m sure it’s not too far away.  Let me know what you think – is this on the horizon and would it be something that you might get into? We’re in an innovative industry and I’m very excited to see where it takes us!

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