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Healthy Vending Machines and the Snacking Problem

Picture of Healthy Snacking

It's no secret that the UK has an obesity problem. In fact, the United Nations pegs Britain as the third fattest nation in Europe behind only Malta and Turkey. Knowing this, it was with great interest that we read an article published by the Daily Mail on 24th October. The article touched on how the French have successfully dealt with childhood obesity to the point that it is virtually non-existent there.

It took a while to get to the point but buried deep in the article is the one thing that separates us from France: snacking. This is important to us given that we are heavily vested in healthy vending machines. Vending, as a general rule, is based on snacking and impulse sales. It is possible to make money in the healthy vending business without adding to the problems caused by snacking.

Food Is an Experience

When you peel away the statistics and anecdotes from the Daily Mail article, you're left with the understanding that the French treat food as an experience to be savoured. They take great care in preparing every meal they eat. And they just don't consume their food, they build an entire experience around mealtime that is meant to be enjoyed by everyone present.

By contrast, we Brits look at food mainly as fuel for the body. We are more likely to grab takeaway than sit down for a three-course meal lasting more than an hour. We are more likely to grab fish and chips or a quick sandwich than wait for freshly prepared meal with a generous helping of delicious vegetables.

This utilitarian view of food leads us to be a bit careless about what we eat. Furthermore, it validates the subconscious thought that junk food is a means of instant gratification.

Because the French view food as an experience rather than fuel, they don't snack much. That's not to say they don't eat sweets and other high calorie foods – they do. It's just that those foods are incorporated into a largely healthy meal. The French aren't buying sweets out of vending machines. They aren't drinking sugary drinks in order to get a quick burst of energy.

Where We Come In

So where does healthy vending come into play here? It's a matter of changing the snacking mindset by changing what our vending machines dispense. Nutrivend machines dispense sports nutrition products intended mainly to meet the nutritional needs of hungry people after they finish their workouts. But we do not have to limit our machines to gyms and leisure centres.

Healthy vending machines in hospitals, schools, and just about any other location give consumers better choices. And if we can get them to make better choices over a long period of time, their snacking habits will change. It may not be much in the overall context of the problem, but it is something those of us in vending can contribute to as part of a larger solution.

Sources:

Daily Mail – https://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-6312865/Dont-want-fat-child-Just-say-Non-says-author-daughter-goes-school-France.html