Consumers today crave fresher, more wholesome, restaurant-inspired foods when grabbing meals on the go and, if such items are readily available, they are willing to pay a premium for them. This trend is evident across all retail channels, and vending and micromarket operators are having to step up their games if they want a piece of this action.
Food from vending machines hasn’t had the best press in the past but operators now know what sells in micromarkets and are applying those lessons learnt to food vending. But there are challenges to face.
Most people want to see the freshness and ‘nutritionals’ up close, but with vending machines the consumers can’t touch and view the food. In micromarkets, food represents on average over 20% of sales because consumers can see it and feel it and read the label, which makes the sale much easier.
But with selling fresh food comes the problem of managing waste. With most items carrying a seven-day shelf life at best, vending operators need to be really careful to put out the right items. If, say, 8% of vending sales were from food and 10% had to be thrown away, you can see how this has to be managed well. Food has always presented challenges, and it’s still tough.
Micromarkets are great – they have expanded the opportunity to sell a more varied selection of fresh food, as well as snacks and beverages – but they are not a fit everywhere. That’s why it’s so important for vending companies to refresh their food machines and take advantage of a sales opportunity that has been ignored in the past. People are willing to pay for quality food in vending and micromarkets, especially when it eliminates the need to get in the car, perhaps lose their car parking spot and waste 30 minutes just to get their lunch.