How Vending Machines Are Playing An Increased Role in a Post-Pandemic World
With social distancing designed to keep us safe, and minimalistic human interaction being encouraged, it’s clear things have changed. The simple act of going out for lunch or taking a snack break with your work colleagues is also being discouraged in a number of workplaces. New work habits and the risks presented by the pandemic have caused more HR Departments to follow a safer and healthier attitude to sourcing food solutions, such as fresh and healthy vending options.
The vending machine industry is in an enviable position as an extremely viable fresh and healthy vending solution that’s been able to adapt given this changing landscape where hygiene and sterility are big focus areas. Gecko Vending is perfectly positioned to fill this space. We stock the widest range of pre-packaged, fresh lunch and dinner meals sourced from both local and nationally recognised companies, enabling us to provide you with fresh and healthy vending food options.
Here are 3 things that make vending machines a better choice for your workplace / venue than ever before:
- Minimised contamination of food during preparation, handling & serving
- Increased healthy and fresh vending choices
- Convenient crowd-free access to fresh and healthy vending options 24/7
Low contamination-risk and healthy vending options
A workplace canteen is one way that vending machines are bringing nutritious fresh vending options to our health-conscious customers. Traditional vending machines require there be different machines in order to sell different types of drink, food and snack products that require storage at different temperatures. With the advancement of food preparation and packaging, the convenience of the internet and fast-tracked hardware upgrades, the vending machines of today are the ‘go to’ solution for fast and easy food, drink and snack delivery. The right vending machine is like a café in a box, allowing for the ‘mixing’ of different food types whilst keeping them refrigerated and fresh.
Alternative dining choices, originally designed with convenience in mind, were a popular choice before the pandemic (e.g. UberEats). However, the increased risk of covid transmission through the handling of food, and its packaging, by multiple workers, means many of these options are no longer the safest or the most convenient. Many workplaces have rules around food delivery staff causing a logistical challenge. While many meal delivery apps and services have their own covidSAFE policies, they may still be in conflict with workplace’s own safety policies, impacting on the convenience and safety considerations that made these options so appealing in the first place. These complications can also slow down delivery time, potentially compromising the freshness of food that has typically already travelled a distance, through fluctuating temperatures, to get to the customer.
The vending machines we all grew up with are a thing of the past. A coin only vending machine selling one product, often just drinks or salty snacks, used to be the mainstay of the industry. Modern, state of the art vending machines now actively monitor temperature fluctuations, best before dates and stock levels all while stocking fresh food, and at different temperatures. The fresh vending machines of today utilise inventory programs to manage and schedule restocking so that maximum availability of fresh food is maintained for customer convenience.
Partnerships with new and emerging pre-packaged meal businesses like YouFoodz have helped to propel the fresh and healthy vending food revolution, giving consumers instant access to appetising meals like flavour-filled meat and vegetable options. The ability to accept all forms of cashless payments is another great leap forward for the vending industry.
The vending machine has evolved to being the preferred choice of many for an affordable, fresh meal, sandwich or snack. A 2015 study in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health showed that 87% of the people surveyed thought vending machines offered fast food snacks that were “too unhealthy”. Furthermore, 80% were willing to pay the same amount or even more for healthier alternatives. What some might find surprising is that the university student market is craving freshness and healthy options. Traditionally considered the least health-conscious market, students comprised 50% of the survey group, with the remaining 50% being public hospital employees – often too busy to stop for long lunch breaks and out of necessity having to be conscious of contagions and germs.
Newly introduced Healthy and Fresh Vending Machine Choices
This leads us to another sometimes overlooked advantage vending machines have over other meal and snack options – hygiene. The sealed design and sterility of contact-free mechanisms inside the machine mean the only person who touches your food is you. This more hygienic system ensures fresh and healthy vending products are neatly packaged in sealed portions, within a temperature controlled and monitored environment. Other popular alternatives for food delivery or takeaway options might include a hot box, where food is kept under warm lights but repeatedly exposed to contact by service workers. Not only does this repeated exposure to human contact compromise food safety, also fluctuating temperatures, each time the hot box is opened can also affect safety and freshness. Similar concerns exist for delivery services, where it is not uncommon for a meal to change hands several times, or sit in traffic or air conditioning with no or minimal heat-protective packaging.
Comparatively, these risks are removed entirely by temperature-controlled, fresh vending machine supply. One fully stocked vending machine can serve 100s of staff in a day, more if being refilled. That’s only exposure to just one Gecko Vending employee (already practicing covidSAFE standards) who also has had minimal exposure to other customers (unlike a cafe barrister or sandwich artist having themselves already served 100s of customers).
All that is needed is for the consumer to select their choice of ‘ready to eat’ items from the vending machine, pay for the item with the cashless system and collect their food from the delivery door – no human interaction. Also, easy-clean touch screens allow for multi-product orders, reducing the number of transactions required per person, thus their time spent standing at the vending machine. Gone are the days where the safety and hygiene of food prepared and delivered personally was an assumption people could afford to make. In a post-covid world, the more we can reduce human interaction (especially when delivering food items and consumables) the safer we keep ourselves and vulnerable service workers.
Crowd-Free and Fresh Vending Machine Food
Our fresh and healthy vending machines provide a crowd-free alternative for your ‘food to go’ purchase. Instead of non-social-distance-compliant queues and cramped lunch rushes, workers can beat the crowds entirely. No more long wait times, huddled at the front counter, waiting to shoulder your way to the front of a crowd when your name is called. Now, workers can have a fresh and healthy lunch, sourced quickly and conveniently from the comfort of a (usually) quiet and frequently cleaned breakroom.
Whether you have your heart set on your favourite home delivery meal or a light healthy snack from your workplace lunchroom, modern vending machines provide a cost effective and fresh ‘ready to eat’ option straight from the vending machine. Daily deliveries of freshly handmade sandwiches, wraps, croissants or salads straight to your workplace vending machine can be flexibly and easily arranged to suit the needs of every workspace. By utilising Food Safety Certified procedures in handling of fresh foods, as a quality vending machine company, we ensure the consumer is guaranteed the highest quality and freshest ingredients.
New companies and workplaces are already reaching out to companies like Gecko Vending to provide their workplaces with healthy meal vending solutions. Reports show that locations most active are Hospitals, manufacturing facilities and residential buildings. While 80% of office workers indicated they would also like more healthy options, the QLD Government’s Health Service Directive has resulted in a heavier focus on healthier options within commercial and public health services. This change has not only made a positive impact on the health of workers within these institutions, but also guests, patients and residents too.
Gecko Vending are committed to providing fresh vending machine solutions, keeping up with new demands created by a post-pandemic world.
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