Last week at the NEC in Birmingham, vending operators and suppliers came together at the AVEX show. As well as offering updates on new technology, the event had a clear focus on health and hydration.
We went along and it was good to hear from visitors that the sector is keen to offer more choice for users. Vending can be an essential element in supporting food and drink provision for shift workers as well as providing options for all staff members in an organisation. It also supplies easy access to food and drink products in public settings such as leisure centres, airports and stations – in fact anywhere either as the sole provider of products or to complement other catering services.
The nutritional quality of food and beverage products sold in vending machines, however, has been implicated as a contributing factor to the development of an obesogenic food environment and has been identified as having scope for improvement.
Change is coming though and it’s most readily seen in the healthcare sector, where legislation and financial incentives such as the Commissioning for Quality and Innovation (CQUINs) payments framework are driving the requirement for ‘healthier vending’. It is also increasingly requested in other workplace settings.
Up to now there has been a perceived barrier to increasing the number of healthier options available due to the lack of mainstream products which meet the various criteria. It was good to see and sample some of the newer products at the show, and also speak to the large manufacturers at the event about the innovations they are bringing to the sector. Schemes like CQUIN already seem to be having a positive impact on product renovation, pack size and reformulation.
Product highlights for us included:
- A new range of gluten free snacks from experts Juvela – the fruit & oat smoothies have nicely controlled sugar content and offer people with coeliac disease a healthier snack they can trust ‘on the go’
- Ambient smoothies in perfect portions from Froosh – 150ml is the recommended serving for juice and smoothies to balance the health benefits with the natural sugar content
- Nims Fruit Crisps showcasing new tastes in air dried snacks
For more information on vending and the vending industry, visit the trade body website Automatic Vending Association. Any manufacturers or operators wishing to work with one of our BDA Work Ready dietitians can call 0121 2008080 for more information.