New single-serve, better-for-you and satisfying products are debuting in the channel.
Farmer’s Fridge, Chicago, is breaking the mold on fast-food by offering healthy meals that are made daily and sold in innovative refrigerated automated kiosks. Products are made fresh each morning and delivered by 10 a.m. Packaged in recyclable plastic jars, items include salad options, as well as breakfast and snack items, each designed to offer various benefits of a healthy diet.
Wrapped in reclaimed barn wood, Farmer’s Fridge kiosks aren’t just any old vending machine. They combine best-in-class vending technology with a touch-screen design to create an innovative way to grab a healthy meal in mere seconds. Each machine contains an on-site recycling bin for empty plastic salad containers. Salads start at $7.99 with a weekly special “Jar Du Jour” for $6.99. All salads can be paired with proteins for $2 and salmon for $4. Snacks are $3.
There are more than 3,000 micro markets in operation in the U.S. today with 30,000 more expected by 2017. The micro markets will often have a microwave station for quick heating, as well as a condiment station for personalizing foods. Players in the space include Boulder Brands, Boulder, Colo., with its EVOL brand of individual frozen burritos. Free of artificial ingredients and made with only white meat chicken and premium beef raised on U.S. family farms without the use of antibiotics and fed a vegetarian diet, varieties include Deli Wrap Chicken, Bean & Rice, Classic Shredded Beef, Gluten-Free Chicken and Big Spicy Steak.
White Castle Food Products L.L.C., Columbus, Ohio, makes its famous sliders available through such micro markets. In addition to traditional hamburgers and cheeseburgers, Jalapeno Cheeseburgers, Chicken Breast Sandwiches and Sausage, Egg & Cheese Sandwiches are also available. All varieties come in twin packs.
A growing number of meals are available for ambient vending. For example, Bumble Bee Foods L.L.C., San Diego, offers ready-to-eat Chicken Salad with Crackers and Tuna Salad with Crackers. Most recently, the company introduced Classic Hummus with Crackers. These 3.5-ounce boxed kits have an 18-month shelf life and are suitable for most standard machines.
Hormel Foods Corp., Austin, Minn., offers its growing line of Compleats shelf-stable meals to the vending industry. This spring, the company is rolling out four breakfast options: apple cinnamon oatmeal, bacon breakfast scramble, sausage breakfast scramble and sausage gravy and roasted potatoes.
Fresh whole fruits are increasingly showing up in vending machines, as are the growing category of pre-packed fruit cups and pouches. For example, Del Monte Corp., Walnut Creek, Calif., offers 11 varieties of fruit cups for refrigerated vending. This includes products under the company’s Fruit Naturals and Superfruits lines. The company also offers its Fruit Burst Squeezers to the vending market. These shelf-stable pouches come in three Simply Fruit flavors (apple cinnamon, mixed berry and strawberry) and two Fruit + Veggie flavors (blueberry and peach-mango). The veggies in the latter include carrot puree and pumpkin juice concentrate.
Vended coffee is not new news, but expectations have never been too great. That has changed in recent years with advancements in single-brew technology. At the recent NAMA show in Chicago, Marley Coffee Automated Stores/AVT Inc., Corona, Calif., debuted its newest Android-based Marley Coffee Kiosk. The bean-to-cup brewer is described as the only machine that extracts all the coffee’s essence. The machine incorporates a pressurized valve, ensuring that the whole coffee brewing cycle is done with the perfect water pressure throughout the entire process.
Sweet and salty snacks are the most common food sold through vending machines. In recent years, these options have been getting healthier and more diverse. For example, to appeal to the growing trend for hot and spicy, Snyder’s-Lance Inc., Hanover, Pa., is introducing Quitos Hot Chili Lime rolled tortilla snacks.
Just in time for summertime family road trips, Snyder’s-Lance Inc. is expanding its vendible Sweet and Salty Pretzel Pieces line with cinnamon sugar. This variety joins salted caramel that debuted last year.