Vendex – The place to do business

Vendex North took place in the Manchester Suite at Old Trafford, home to none other than Manchester United on Tuesday 16th November. Vending International was there to see the latest in machine technology, together with a wide range of vended products and services.

“Gorilla Drinks is helping to change the face of the healthy drinks market,” said Debbie Cottam. “Its GO-APE drinks are made with 100% fruit juice,” she said, adding that as a further benefit, the company makes donations to The Gorilla Organisation. Its new range of milkshakes includes the Choca Shocka and Strawb Gazorb; made with semiskimmed milk they are just as healthy and credible a choice for young people as the juices and look set to match them in success.

Tayto Group used the show as an opportunity to promote Potato Rough Cuts in the UK. “It’s been great,” said Stephen Reynolds, adding that diet led brand D’Lites were also “going down a storm”. We caught him in a rare quiet moment as the stand had been busy with buyers throughout the day and as we left, another crowd had gathered.

Over at Bravilor Bonamat, it was great to see Chris Winter again. He told us that the Bolero Turbo had been selling well: “People are overcoming their fear of instant soluble coffee.” Speaking of the machine’s benefits, he added: “Off the back of the recession and the Comprehensive Spending Review, this product will really come into its own. It produces higher volumes, at a lower purchase price and saves on wastage.” Adding that it fills 21 jugs in just a minute and a half, buyers were flocking to find out more. “We have high hopes for it,” he concluded, before rushing off to speak to yet another customer.

Vending Miser was another busy stand, so we dropped by to listen to a representative talking about the product’s energy saving benefits. “There is no need to purchase new machines to reduce operating costs and greenhouse gas emissions. Vending Miser incorporates innovative energy-saving technology into a small plug-and-play device that installs in minutes, either on the wall or on the vending machine,” he said.

Fulla Juice looks set to make an impact in a number of markets, Education being just one. Its Apple and Orange Juice drinks offer a healthy alternative to the fizzy varieties and are delicious too. Small and compact, the machines take up little room, a plus where space is at a premium. “We have four machines going into sites next week,” said founder and developer Chris Leckie at the brand’s second launch, adding: “Growth is there, we have a lot of interest to follow up.”

The Ferrero team were rushed off their feet, what with license deals linking them to the X Factor for Tic Tac, and the Sex and the City launch for Bueno, gaining the brand increasing recognition.

Karen Withers of Kraft described the show as ‘exceptional’, with lots of potential customers expressing an interest and a number of orders being placed. Tom Faulkner said it had been ‘intense’, adding: “You get the people that matter here.” The Belvita brand has made a name for itself quickly in the breakfast snack market – delivering a slow release of energy over four hours. The famed Oreo brand, meanwhile, had customers stopping to find out more about Kraft’s growing range.

Over at RPC Tedeco-Gizeh, Steve White was pleased with the response to company’s latest cup designs. For decades RPC Tedeco-Gizeh has been a reliable supplier of top quality plastic vending cups for cold and hot drinks. Thanks to the balance between materials, designs and sophisticated production facilities its vending cups are at the heart of many hundreds of thousands of vending machines. More and more companies are discovering the power of vending and drinking cups as a means of communication and are asking RPC Tedeco-Gizeh to add their message to their cups. The company plays a significant contribution to developments in the field of renewable raw materials and modern technology.

Matrix Catering has a long standing history in the design, development and manufacturing of high quality vending, catering and dispensing equipment. It has developed and refined an extensive range of vending machines and has a well-deserved reputation for excellence within the industry. This experience covers all areas of the business from the manufacture and supply of its own machines to concept and production of bespoke machines with complete confidentiality.

The company was formed in 1994 and rapidly established a good reputation for manufacturing reliable ‘Hot Drink’ machines. The Managing Director, David Pearce, has presided over the steady growth of the company from the first days of trading from a small trading unit in Maldon, to its current purpose built and owned factory in Wickford.

David showed us the Mini Magnum, an impressive machine that would look at home in any pub, club, restaurant, hotel, cafe or sandwich shop. “It’s clear, concise, and easy to use – we have had a very positive reaction to it,” he said.

Over at Sun Valley, National Account Manager Chris Compton asked us to sample the Nature range. With either a hint of the ‘exotic’ or a hint of the ‘naughty’, they are available in four flavours and two sizes: a 45g bag for one and a 125g bag for sharing.

From the fruit, nut & dark chocolate mix with cashew nuts, golden sultanas, pecans, raisins, apricots and dark chocolate drops to the Berries mix with blueberries, cherries, cranberries, crimson raisins and cape gooseberries; the Fruit, nut & yoghurt mix with pineapple, almonds, golden, sultanas, pumpkin seeds, raisins and yoghurt coated pineapple; to the Fruit & nut mix with pistachios, golden sultanas, almonds, Chilean raisins and dragon fruit, there really is something for everyone.

“Every operator asks the same question, ‘Why can’t we get anything healthy on the road?’” said Chris, adding: “There is a good margin here, the 45g bags cost 42p, and while they could be sold at 89p, it might be worth selling at 79p/80p to establish them first.” Launched in June, a bag of these healthy delights will give you 1 of your 5 a day and can be found in independent retailers, multiples and supermarkets. “We are trying to get a foothold in vending,” said Chris, “We are currently looking into the demand for the bigger 125g bags in this market segment, as in places like London people work long hours and need a healthy snack to get them through the day.”

Kevin Reed of Siemens Financial Services was pleased with the company’s performance at the show: “It’s been good: busy, with a steady flow of visitors.” He even got us to have a go on the Wii, used to advertise the launch of its new online leasing tool which is coming in the new-year – the Sie Smart.

Vending International has highlighted the fantastic Feasters brand before, and so we were pleased to meet them again at the show. Marketing Manager, Nicola O’Dwyer explained that the packaging used for these items had been safely designed for microwaves: “It’s not going to explode and create a mess. It expands and the cardboard vents steam.” Heating a cheeseburger, made with 100% beef, the sesame seeds on top of the bun smelled delicious and toasted perfectly. Microwaveable burgers are famed for being a bit on the chewy side, but this couldn’t have come out of the packet better.

The chicken sandwich, made with 100% breast meat and chargrilled for added taste was equally impressive. Account Manager David Whincup explained just how healthy an option it is, adding: “It’s only 3 points on the Weight Watchers diet. Because we are new and unique a lot of people are interested in our product. It’s got a long shelf life and couldn’t be simpler to prepare.”

Over at N&W, Technical Director Craig Jukes told us all about Vend Track, a remote management system designed to deliver bus
iness intelligence. “It puts you in control, when a machine is out of order, you get a text message or email alerting you to the problem,” Craig said. The benefits don’t stop there either: “If you would like to know every time the door is opened, or a product is running low or is out of stock, Vend Track can do that too. The system enables you to ensure you always have the right products available.”

With a system like this in place, operators always know what their sales are and a spiral need never run out. Although there are other systems on the market that have some of these features, it is doubtful that there are any that offer them all in one box. Bespoke each time, customers can shape the system to suit their needs.

International Paper added to its range of paper vending cup designs by launching the new ‘Barista’ range at Vendex North. The ‘Barista’ design is the result of significant market research. ‘Barista’ has a modern, contemporary coffee shop look and with each size having its own colour variation it is a distinctive addition to the range of paper vending cups available from International Paper. Available in four sizes: 8oz, 10oz and two 12oz versions (squat and tall shapes), the cups also have a range of lids to complete the quality experience – both flat ‘carry’ lids and sip-through versions are soon to be available.

Mike Gardner, Sales and Marketing Director of International Paper Foodservice Europe Limited, sees the new design cup as a further opportunity for vending operators to raise prices and generate a higher volume of sales. “There’s been an explosion in the use of paper cups in vending that mirrors the proliferation of paper cups in high street coffee shops,” he said. “Consumers have come to expect acertain quality and the vending industry has been busy meeting those raised expectations. ‘Barista’ is a fresh new design that captures the atmosphere of today’s prevalent ‘coffee culture’. It looks very smart and it’s really comfortable to hold.”

According to Mike, it’s not just the improved quality of a paper cup that provides ‘sell up’ opportunities. “12oz cups are the most common size used in the High Street, and is increasingly seen in public vending sites, but even raising the size from the traditional 7oz to an 8oz paper cup is a great opportunity to increase the vend price without consumer resistance,” he said.

In addition to the ‘Barista’ design, the company had on display its popular ‘Soho’ and ‘Infinity’ vending cups plus the unique ‘Wild Card’ design, which has created a lot of interest in the marketplace as operators seek to improve the vending experience in the workplace.

Vendex North at Manchester United was a resounding success for Automatic Vendors – the U-Select-It Distribution Partner for the U.K. and Europe. Alan Cooper and the team reported an outstanding show with orders received on their stand from the Mercato, Alpine, Summit and Satellite vending machine ranges. Be it chilled, refrigerated, frozen or satellite models, the vendors which are proving so successful in the US now have quite a following over here.

Simon Kershaw of Aimia added: “Vendex as always is a fantastic, compact show where we as a supplier get to see the right people in one day. The show was very well attended again this year, thanks to the

Industry Awards the previous night. We had the opportunity to showcase a number of new products this year, which were all very well received. No Fear in a fully branded Bev Max machine from Crane really drew people to the stand. The unique re-sealable can makes this new extreme energy drink a real must stock line for Vending operators. The commercial proposition is fantastic with great profit potential for the operator, making it the fastest growing energy drink in convenience retail – with this, No Fear Extreme

Energy came highly commended for the new product concept award in the Innovation Awards the previous evening.

“We also had a great response to our new range of vending chocolates from Milfresh. Following the award winning success of the brand-leading skimmed milk, Milfresh has launched two new hot chocolate drinks for vending – a fully granulated hot chocolate and powdered Fairtrade hot chocolate – both HVO free, school friendly and made with skimmed milk. Customer feedback on both products was fantastic – we think they are the best tasting chocolates on the market.

“Talking about Skimmed Milk, Milfresh Granulated Skimmed Milk continues to lead the way in the premium vended drink market – and we have recently refreshed the packaging to communicate the awards the product has won, health benefits to the consumer, and included a cute cow flying a by-plane on pack – all a bit of fun, but the pack looks great to wholesale. Joining Milfresh Skimmed is Mooo2, a cost effective alternative to skimmed milk – 100% dairy, additive free and ideal for speciality coffees, tea and flat coffee. Again packaged in a fun looking pack, customers will love!

“Also shown was our new coffee range, Café Nueva – with the world’s first triple certified freeze-dried coffee (Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance and Organic), as well as dual certified (Fairtrade and Organic) and a cost effective alternative to the brand leading coffee on the market. Café Nueva consists of 7 freeze-dried blends, Fairtrade Espresso Beans and Freshbrew ground coffee. The range is suitable for all budgets and offers the most ethically unique range to the vending market.”

A fantastic show, everybody that we spoke to agreed that Vendex was the place to do business. Many had exhibited in Twickenham already, returning to the North to illustrate their belief in the show’s oneday format. Simple, straightforward stands with the emphasis on the product – the formula works well.