Health-aware consumers demand more from vending

Vending & Automated Retail Association chief executive David Llewellyn

As consumer demand evolves to a healthier standard, it is important for vending to start providing healthy options according to Vending & Automated Retail Association chief executive David Llewellyn.

The vended snacks market in the UK has experienced notable shifts and adaptations over the past 12 months, largely influenced by evolving consumer preferences and broader societal changes. These developments have significantly shaped the landscape of the industry, leading to both challenges and opportunities for vendors operating within it.

The most notable change of which coming in the form of a rise in demand of health-conscious choices and sustainability concerns. As people have become more health-aware, there is a growing preference towards nutritious and better-for-you snack options and beverages. This is evidenced in recent 2022 AVA census which showed that 80% of pre-packaged cold drinks in vending machines now contain less than 5g of added sugar per 100ml, up from 44% in 2017.

Similarly, compared to just 35% in 2017, 79% of confectionary and sweet lines now have less than 250kcal. The quality of savoury snacks has also improved, with 38% of them now weighing less than 30g, a jump from 22% in 2017. Additionally, up from 10% in 2018, 17% of sandwiches and other pre-packaged ready meals now have less than 400kcal and 5g of saturated fat per 100g. These figures show how dedicated the business is to encourage healthy options and satisfying consumer needs for more well-rounded choices.

Of course, traditional products found in vending machines will always be popular and in demand. Chocolate, crisps, biscuits and soft drinks will remain a main contender in vending machines, however what is crucial for the industry to realise is that consumer demand is evolving to that of a healthier standard and therefore it is important to provide these healthier options too.

Another key decider in office refreshments, again, is the desire for healthy snacks in the workplace. As part of a wider societal consensus to become a ‘better for you’ one, employees are increasingly seeking healthier snack and beverage options that vendors and micro markets will need to consider when stocking the shelves.