Vending: New Challenges, New Choices



Paul Partyka |

WASHINGTON —Vending, a traditional part of the self-service laundry experience, is about to undergo a major change in 2011. Fortunately, laundry owners will be spared a major inconvenience.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is making it easier for consumers to keep their diet resolutions. In 2011, all vending machine operators with 20 or more locations will need to provide the calorie count of items before they are chosen, thanks to health-reform legislation passed last year.
However, as you might expect, the vending industry is more inclined to refer to this situation as the “calorie-count catastrophe.” The industry estimates that it will need to spend 14 million hours annually to comply with the new disclosure laws.
The FDA says there are about 7 million vending machines throughout the United States, with each operator owning about 1,400 machines containing about 20 items each.
The new year, as you might expect, also brought about an array of new (and interesting) vending offerings.
In Japan, a vending machine has been developed that uses facial recognition to recommend drinks based on a customer’s age and gender. The machine use sensors to determine the characteristics of an approaching customer.
If the customer is a man, the machine is likely to recommend a canned coffee drink since men prefer these. If the customer is between 50 and 60 years of age, the recommendation is likely to be green tea. The machine will recommend a tea drink or slightly sweeter product to a young woman, since market research has shown that they prefer these.
One of the facial-recognition machines is in use now, with five more set to go.
While some operators have been known to offer sandwiches in their laundries, a Spanish butcher is taking the vended “dining” experience to a whole new level. A butcher shop in Spain has installed a vender outside its location that offers a wide array of meats, sausages, sandwiches and other traditional selections. The machines have touch screens that make ordering as simple as tapping the screen to get a food fix 24/7, according to the owner.
The “meat machine” is also designed to recognize a variety of languages, a necessity in order to satisfy meat-craving tourists, the owner adds.

About the author

Paul Partyka

American Coin-Op

Paul Partyka was editor of American Coin-Op from 1997 through May 2011.


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