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Vending machines are an integral part of our everyday lives. Providing convenience and accessibility to a wide range of products, they’re found in the workplace, public venues, train stations, hospitals and beyond.
More than once, they’ve been the answer to a mid-afternoon pick-me-up, or a speedy lunch in between calls. But in recent years, as operators have sought to tap into new audiences, they’ve become so much more than just a humble snack solution!
As vending experts, we make it our priority to stay atop of the industry’s trends. That’s why, in this blog, we’ve delved into some of the most unique vending machines from around the world.
In the UK alone, there are 1.2 million vending machines. Built to satisfy our cravings, or provide convenience on the go, plenty feature freshly brewed coffee and tasty refreshment options. But some take it one step further.
In 2020, the first pizza vending machine was installed in South Bristol. Open 24 hours a day, the unmanned solution can cook and dispense pizzas in less than five minutes. ‘Rustlers To Go’ also provides an extensive range of cooked convenience foods. From burgers to paninis, the Kepak-owned vending machines feature a microwave and mini fridge to safely store and heat a variety of different options.
Recently, Cook Food unveiled their own range of unique vending machines. The B Corp frozen food provider has released 15 machines across the UK in a bid to help workers, students and busy residents gain access to healthy home cooked meals whenever they’re short for time. All options are sold as ‘complete meals’ that are microwave-safe, affordable and dietary-suitable.
Further afield, ‘Burrito Box’ in Hollywood is the world’s first automated burrito kiosk. In East Asia, Akoof Food & Beverages have installed fast-food chicken tender vending machines, whilst Chef-In-Box have rolled out ready meals featuring local cuisine.
Refreshment vending machines may be the most popular solution on the market, but book vending machines are following closely behind! Growing in popularity among schools, colleges and universities, the simple systems are an extension of the library. Operational 24/7, without the need for staff, they’re often activated via supplied tokens rather than money.
In the last year, Penguin teamed up with Graddon Vending to install one of the first vending machines outside of the classroom. At Exeter train station, the brand’s kiosk offers 28 affordable book titles for commuters to pick up on their travels. Having proved so popular, Penguin and Graddon plan to fit a new book vending machine at a different train station each month!
Vending machines aren’t just favoured for their convenience. Some, like Dubai’s Gold-To-Go kiosk, are tourist attractions too! The first ever gold vending machine is located in Dubai Mall. Guarded by security all day long, it exchanges money into 24-karat gold in 320 different forms.
Having proved so popular, competitor gold vending machines have even popped up across the states.
In the past decade, advancements in technology have seen unique vending machines grow in popularity. Touchscreen solutions with interactive controls are the ‘new norm’, whilst facial recognition and biometrics have provided personalised experiences unlike any we’ve seen before.
More than that, however, unique vending machines offer a sense of novelty and exclusivity that traditional kiosk’s lack. Whether it’s trying different food and beverages or encountering unusual items, they create memorable moments and experiences that can be shared between friends.
In culture, unique vending machines are important too. In South East Asia, for example, they provide convenience for a busy workforce, whilst reflecting the traditions and local flavours of the regions in which they are found. They offer a glimpse into the unique aspects of a particular location, for both locals and visitors to enjoy.
At Oasis Coffee & Vending, we’ve proudly supplied vending machines to venues across the UK for 50 years. For a bespoke experience, focused on affordability and excellent customer service, visit our website.