Healthy Vending Machines (Finally) Sprouting Up
Working in offices for 12 years, I’ve never understood what’s going on inside of those break room vending machines. Why are our employers feeding us Mountain Dew, Dr. Pepper, Reese’s Pieces and Doritos? Seriously, if they’re trying to kill us, what’s with the paychecks?
Contrary to my crotchety tone, I’m not much of a health nut, but avoid eating stuff that blatantly draws down the clock. It’s not just offices, of course, as these boxes of caloric destruction are everywhere—shopping centers, gas stations, transit stations, schools, etc. Call it a pet peeve, but I’ve never understood why vending machines needed to sling such low-end junk.
With this indignation, I was delighted to hear about Fresh Healthy Vending, a San Diego-based concept that’s just what it seems—better-for-you snacks placed in specially designed, modern machines, not just Clif Bars thrown alongside Cheez-Its and Skittles.
Founder Nicholas Yates is a charming man with an Australian accent and a solid franchise-based business plan to make a difference. As he explained, the timing is finally right where the public’s demand is matching organizational pressures to keep the herd healthy and insurance premiums low.
“The vending industry has been peddling junk food since its inception, and it’s very difficult for a vending operator to shift from junk food to health food,” Yates said. “The first few years I was in the United States, the common thread was that healthy food in vending machines doesn’t sell.”
He used the analogy of going to a McDonald’s with the idea of getting a salad, but the sights, smells and sounds inevitably encourage people to buy a burger. “And they know that,” he added.
To get around that natural temptation, Fresh Healthy Vending machines and mini pantries are stocked with food you've heard of—Honest Tea, Popchips, IZZE juices and, in some cases, fresh sandwiches, wraps and yogurt.
Fresh Healthy Vending is also is also an intriguing, somewhat hands-off business opportunity with a minimum investment of $110,000—a little higher than I expected. Yates said most new franchisees start with a 15-pack of machines.
Asked why the time is right for healthier vending options, he cited rapidly changing eating habits and cultural trends.
“The world is becoming healthier and we all know that,” Yates said. “We’re looking for prospective franchisees … that want to make an impact on the community they live in, do something socially responsible and, of course, profitable.”
Sign me up or, rather, who wants to start a franchise right here in Franchise Times? I can think of no better way to ensure industry exposure.