The 30+ companies giving vending machines a healthy, high-tech makeover

The 30+ companies giving vending machines a healthy, high-tech makeover

By
Louise Burfitt
July 6, 2021

🍿 What is it?

  • Say ‘vending machine’ and you might picture a crumpled bag of crisps or a broken chocolate bar, slightly stale and often priced far above what you’d pay in a shop. 
  • But imagine if you could buy fresh meals made to order from a kiosk in your office or see your favourite plant-based snacks fall to the bottom of a touchless, contactless vending machine near you?
  • While this is far from the reality everywhere, it already is the reality somewhere. A host of startups in Europe and further afield are given the humble vending machine a refresh in public spaces and offices around the globe.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • Say farewell to the unhealthy, stale fare of vending machines as you know it: the new vending machine is all about food that tastes good and is good for the consumer. 
  • And the new vending machine is hyper-connected, often deploying robotics and AI to ensure a super-sleek and smooth experience for the user.
  • Some startups are focused on improving vending machines in public spaces, like hospitals, train stations and inner cities, while others have honed in on the office as a place where fresh food is often lacking and a space in the market exists to be exploited. So let’s take a look at exactly why the vending sector is ripe for a rethink… 

🤷 Why?

  • Food deserts are real and even in big cities, it can be difficult to find convenient healthy options for food on the go. Many modern food-vending companies were founded with the aim of providing customers with fresh, healthy or plant-based options at all hours of the day and night. This goes hand in hand with rising demand among certain demographics for healthier food options. 
  • The pandemic has certainly driven some of the growth in smart vending machines: suddenly, the thought of being able to grab a ready meal or snack without any human contact, and barely any physical touch, is something people are on the lookout for. Japan has deployed millions of vending machines during the pandemic alone.
  • F&B entrepreneurs are also looking to vending machines and kiosks as a lower-cost way to try out a new concept and reach consumers around the clock.
Source: Health Food Wall

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • Fully plant-based vending machines and kiosks are a big trend, drawing on the wider popularity of vegan food. VEAT in Sweden, Farmer’s Fridge in the US and Vegan Vend in the UK are all capitalising on this trend. 
  • Many companies in the modern vending sector are also driven by a desire to improve consumer health and offer more wholesome and sustainable options than your average vending machine. In the UK, Healthy Nibbles provides snacks through its 100% cashless machines: bestsellers include lentil chips and smoked almonds. Belgian family business Kjure offers full meals in takeaway form from its 40 vending machines across Belgium, including salads and fish dishes while Health Food Wall offers a similar service in the Netherlands. Also in Belgium, Albert’s sells healthy smoothies made by robots! 
  • Local food options are also proliferating. In France, rural farmers are even experimenting using vending machines to sell locally grown, fresh produce to consumers. During the coronavirus lockdown, UK food producers also used vending machines to boost their income and sell food to nearby consumers.
  • As offices have traditionally been locations where it’s tricky to get a fresh lunch, many companies began targeting the workplace sector - pitching their smart fridges and healthy lunch-dispensing automated canteens to big corporations for a monthly fee. Time will tell where the dust will fall when it comes to workplaces and Covid-19, but for now there’s still plenty working in this segment. Aitme offers a full-service automated canteen run using robotics and are based in Berlin, while Foodles and Totem are offering a similar service in France. Byte Kiosk utilises data collected from their smart fridges to determine what to stock in their units, helping to minimise waste and cut costs. 
  • When it comes to smart machines and fridges, the tech clearly needs to be up to scratch. Technology providers are the hidden champions of many disruptive food tech startups, according to Boostbar co-founder Pascal Uffer. Televend, Cantaloupe Inc, Stora Enso, Invenda Group and skimo.io are just a few of the companies working behind the scenes to make smart fridges and vending devices a success. Many of the new smart vending machines, fridges and office canteens offer a seamless experience for the user, featuring contactless payments, telemetry, touchscreens and robotics.
View our database of 25 vending machine companies

👀 Who? (30+ companies in this space)

  • Aitme (full-time automated robotic office canteen, Germany)
  • Alberts (smoothie stations, Belgium)
  • Basil Street Pizza (pizza vending machines, USA)
  • Boostbar (office refreshments & food, Switzerland)
  • Byte Kiosk (technology for vending, USA)
  • Chowbotics  (fresh food-making robot made to order, USA)
  • Drop Water (vending machine drinks bottled at POS, USA)
  • Farmer’s Fridge (plant-based vending machines, USA)
  • FEEL EAT (connected office fridges serving fresh food, Switzerland)
  • FELFEL (healthy office fridges, Switzerland)
  • Foodles (autonomous canteen concept, France)
  • Foorban (smart office fridges, Italy)
  • FrescoFrigo (smart fridges serving healthy food, Italy)
  • Health Food Wall (fresh healthy vending in airports, office and educational settings, Netherlands)
  • Healthy Nibbles (vending machines serving healthy snacks, UK)
  • HelloFreshGO (innovative office fridges, Germany) 
  • Kjure (vending machines offering healthy meals, Belgium)
  • La Cantoche by Treat (smart fridges for offices, Switzerland) 
  • Morsl (healthy, unattended catering for offices, Australia) 
  • Mother (fresh, healthy meals via vending machine, UK) 
  • Mr Lee’s Noodles (fresh noodle vending machines, UK)
  • myFITBOX (vending machines dispensing healthy snacks, 
  • Noury (unattended office catering, Switzerland)
  • NOWEAT (smart office fridges, Spain)
  • Snax (smart fridge for offices, Switzerland)
  • Selecta (Europe's leading vending & coffee services company, Switzerland)
  • The Treat by Maas (smart fridges and coffee machines for unmanned catering solutions, Netherlands)
  • Totem (office vending machines, France) 
  • Tsuta (Michelin-starred noodles via vending machines, Tokyo) 
  • Ultra Convenience (intelligent fridges, Portugal)
  • VEAT (plant-based vending machine, Sweden)
  • Vegan Vend (vegan vending machines, UK)
  • Wundermart (autonomous shop concepts, Netherlands)
  • YO-KAI EXPRESS (gourmet noodles by autonomous restaurants, USA)

📈 The figures

  • The global market for smart vending machines is estimated to be worth $720 million, and is expected to reach 1410 million USD by 2024.
  • Meanwhile, the global smart refrigerators market is valued at over $253.9 million and is growing at a CAGR of 13.7%.

☕️ Case study: Boostbar

  • Boostbar is a Zurich-based startup founded by Pascal Uffer, the former COO and Innovation Head of Selecta, Europe's leading vending & coffee services company. 
  • The startup focused on driving innovation in the workplace refreshment segment. Founded in 2020, the company sells modular hardware such as fridges, freezers and coffee machines controlled and monitored via smart sensors. 
  • Their devices supply premium coffee, healthy snacks and nourishing drinks to firms large and small - thanks to their pick-and-mix offering, their range is suitable for a range of clients, whether they have 20 or 1,000 employees.
  • Boostbar have already installed their signature ‘Boostbars’ in offices and warehouses across Switzerland, as well as hotels and catering providers who wish to supplement their existing services.
  • But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Co-founder Pascal Uffer said: ‘Fresh food vending is structurally unattractive. High labour costs, high amounts of unsold food, the only way to earn money is through a high monthly charge.’ That’s why Boostbar have focused their efforts on modular tech instead.
  • In June 2021, Boostbar announced the completion of a capital funding round led by BackBone Ventures. The money will be put to good use to scale up more quickly and expand the company’s product range. 

🥬 Case study: VEAT

  • Swedish startup VEAT was founded in 2019: the company’s plant-based vending machines are designed with the aim of making healthy food more affordable and accessible.
  • The company’s first kiosks, which serve 100% vegan food, launched in Stockholm at the end of last year, with ten already dotted around the city.
  • Meal choices at present include tomato stew with plant-based mince and jackfruit dishes, alongside vegan salads, wraps and snacks. Sweden is a country known for its love of sweet treats as snacks (check out the tradition of ‘fika’), but VEAT’s founders are keen to promote more nourishing snacks.
  • Sustainability is also on the minds of VEAT’s founders: any unsold food is donated to charity to reduce waste and has attracted investment from VC fund Pale Blue Dot, which invests exclusively in climate-friendly companies.
  • Last autumn, the brand raised half a million euros in a pre-seed funding round - money earmarked for expanding their healthy vending options to other European cities. 
  • The founders are particularly excited about scaling up this year - one of the advantages of vending machines is that companies can grow quickly - and are committed to keeping their prices affordable to the masses so many Europeans can enjoy their delicious plant-based fare. 

👍 The good

  • The sorts of locations where vending machines and smart fridges are being sited include hospitals, universities, offices and the like - all places where finding fresh food has often been like searching for a needle in a haystack. Greater options when it comes to fresh food and nutritious snacks is a boon for health-conscious consumers, and encourages healthier choices for everyone.
  • Vending machines and kiosks have a small physical footprint and can therefore be set up even in small spaces. This makes them a lower-cost way for young startups to launch their products in new locations, whether that’s existing office space or retail sites. 
  • Unattended catering is just that: unattended. Which means companies don’t need to invest time and money into finding and retaining the right staff. This can be an advantage for companies trying to keep costs low (though does mean more capital is needed upfront).

👎 The bad

  • Waste is pretty much a given when it comes to machines and kiosks that sell fresh food. Pascal Uffer, co-founder of Boostbar, says the average amount of unsold food is high, at around 30%. This isn’t great for profit margins, or for sustainability. 
  • Fresh food vending is also less profitable than selling snacks and drinks, which have the potential to be a 24/7 POS. Brands that diversify with a wider offering rather than a single focus are likely to see more success. 
  • And then there’s the fact that smart fridges in offices may need a rethink if we really are entering the post-pandemic, post-office era. This is already taking effect: several companies have withdrawn machines or closed down their operations as a direct result of the pandemic.

💡 The bottom line

  • While vending machines and smart fridges might seem like a way to get rich quick to the uninformed, the reality is a bit more complicated than that. 
  • Vending machines with a clear offering, in the right location and at the correct price point, are more likely to succeed and reaching your ideal demographic is key. In no doubt though, with ever-evolving technology, vending machines are casting off their old-school image and racing headlong into the future.

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🍿 What is it?

  • Say ‘vending machine’ and you might picture a crumpled bag of crisps or a broken chocolate bar, slightly stale and often priced far above what you’d pay in a shop. 
  • But imagine if you could buy fresh meals made to order from a kiosk in your office or see your favourite plant-based snacks fall to the bottom of a touchless, contactless vending machine near you?
  • While this is far from the reality everywhere, it already is the reality somewhere. A host of startups in Europe and further afield are given the humble vending machine a refresh in public spaces and offices around the globe.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • Say farewell to the unhealthy, stale fare of vending machines as you know it: the new vending machine is all about food that tastes good and is good for the consumer. 
  • And the new vending machine is hyper-connected, often deploying robotics and AI to ensure a super-sleek and smooth experience for the user.
  • Some startups are focused on improving vending machines in public spaces, like hospitals, train stations and inner cities, while others have honed in on the office as a place where fresh food is often lacking and a space in the market exists to be exploited. So let’s take a look at exactly why the vending sector is ripe for a rethink… 

🤷 Why?

  • Food deserts are real and even in big cities, it can be difficult to find convenient healthy options for food on the go. Many modern food-vending companies were founded with the aim of providing customers with fresh, healthy or plant-based options at all hours of the day and night. This goes hand in hand with rising demand among certain demographics for healthier food options. 
  • The pandemic has certainly driven some of the growth in smart vending machines: suddenly, the thought of being able to grab a ready meal or snack without any human contact, and barely any physical touch, is something people are on the lookout for. Japan has deployed millions of vending machines during the pandemic alone.
  • F&B entrepreneurs are also looking to vending machines and kiosks as a lower-cost way to try out a new concept and reach consumers around the clock.
Source: Health Food Wall

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • Fully plant-based vending machines and kiosks are a big trend, drawing on the wider popularity of vegan food. VEAT in Sweden, Farmer’s Fridge in the US and Vegan Vend in the UK are all capitalising on this trend. 
  • Many companies in the modern vending sector are also driven by a desire to improve consumer health and offer more wholesome and sustainable options than your average vending machine. In the UK, Healthy Nibbles provides snacks through its 100% cashless machines: bestsellers include lentil chips and smoked almonds. Belgian family business Kjure offers full meals in takeaway form from its 40 vending machines across Belgium, including salads and fish dishes while Health Food Wall offers a similar service in the Netherlands. Also in Belgium, Albert’s sells healthy smoothies made by robots! 
  • Local food options are also proliferating. In France, rural farmers are even experimenting using vending machines to sell locally grown, fresh produce to consumers. During the coronavirus lockdown, UK food producers also used vending machines to boost their income and sell food to nearby consumers.
  • As offices have traditionally been locations where it’s tricky to get a fresh lunch, many companies began targeting the workplace sector - pitching their smart fridges and healthy lunch-dispensing automated canteens to big corporations for a monthly fee. Time will tell where the dust will fall when it comes to workplaces and Covid-19, but for now there’s still plenty working in this segment. Aitme offers a full-service automated canteen run using robotics and are based in Berlin, while Foodles and Totem are offering a similar service in France. Byte Kiosk utilises data collected from their smart fridges to determine what to stock in their units, helping to minimise waste and cut costs. 
  • When it comes to smart machines and fridges, the tech clearly needs to be up to scratch. Technology providers are the hidden champions of many disruptive food tech startups, according to Boostbar co-founder Pascal Uffer. Televend, Cantaloupe Inc, Stora Enso, Invenda Group and skimo.io are just a few of the companies working behind the scenes to make smart fridges and vending devices a success. Many of the new smart vending machines, fridges and office canteens offer a seamless experience for the user, featuring contactless payments, telemetry, touchscreens and robotics.
View our database of 25 vending machine companies

👀 Who? (30+ companies in this space)

  • Aitme (full-time automated robotic office canteen, Germany)
  • Alberts (smoothie stations, Belgium)
  • Basil Street Pizza (pizza vending machines, USA)
  • Boostbar (office refreshments & food, Switzerland)
  • Byte Kiosk (technology for vending, USA)
  • Chowbotics  (fresh food-making robot made to order, USA)
  • Drop Water (vending machine drinks bottled at POS, USA)
  • Farmer’s Fridge (plant-based vending machines, USA)
  • FEEL EAT (connected office fridges serving fresh food, Switzerland)
  • FELFEL (healthy office fridges, Switzerland)
  • Foodles (autonomous canteen concept, France)
  • Foorban (smart office fridges, Italy)
  • FrescoFrigo (smart fridges serving healthy food, Italy)
  • Health Food Wall (fresh healthy vending in airports, office and educational settings, Netherlands)
  • Healthy Nibbles (vending machines serving healthy snacks, UK)
  • HelloFreshGO (innovative office fridges, Germany) 
  • Kjure (vending machines offering healthy meals, Belgium)
  • La Cantoche by Treat (smart fridges for offices, Switzerland) 
  • Morsl (healthy, unattended catering for offices, Australia) 
  • Mother (fresh, healthy meals via vending machine, UK) 
  • Mr Lee’s Noodles (fresh noodle vending machines, UK)
  • myFITBOX (vending machines dispensing healthy snacks, 
  • Noury (unattended office catering, Switzerland)
  • NOWEAT (smart office fridges, Spain)
  • Snax (smart fridge for offices, Switzerland)
  • Selecta (Europe's leading vending & coffee services company, Switzerland)
  • The Treat by Maas (smart fridges and coffee machines for unmanned catering solutions, Netherlands)
  • Totem (office vending machines, France) 
  • Tsuta (Michelin-starred noodles via vending machines, Tokyo) 
  • Ultra Convenience (intelligent fridges, Portugal)
  • VEAT (plant-based vending machine, Sweden)
  • Vegan Vend (vegan vending machines, UK)
  • Wundermart (autonomous shop concepts, Netherlands)
  • YO-KAI EXPRESS (gourmet noodles by autonomous restaurants, USA)

📈 The figures

  • The global market for smart vending machines is estimated to be worth $720 million, and is expected to reach 1410 million USD by 2024.
  • Meanwhile, the global smart refrigerators market is valued at over $253.9 million and is growing at a CAGR of 13.7%.

☕️ Case study: Boostbar

  • Boostbar is a Zurich-based startup founded by Pascal Uffer, the former COO and Innovation Head of Selecta, Europe's leading vending & coffee services company. 
  • The startup focused on driving innovation in the workplace refreshment segment. Founded in 2020, the company sells modular hardware such as fridges, freezers and coffee machines controlled and monitored via smart sensors. 
  • Their devices supply premium coffee, healthy snacks and nourishing drinks to firms large and small - thanks to their pick-and-mix offering, their range is suitable for a range of clients, whether they have 20 or 1,000 employees.
  • Boostbar have already installed their signature ‘Boostbars’ in offices and warehouses across Switzerland, as well as hotels and catering providers who wish to supplement their existing services.
  • But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Co-founder Pascal Uffer said: ‘Fresh food vending is structurally unattractive. High labour costs, high amounts of unsold food, the only way to earn money is through a high monthly charge.’ That’s why Boostbar have focused their efforts on modular tech instead.
  • In June 2021, Boostbar announced the completion of a capital funding round led by BackBone Ventures. The money will be put to good use to scale up more quickly and expand the company’s product range. 

🥬 Case study: VEAT

  • Swedish startup VEAT was founded in 2019: the company’s plant-based vending machines are designed with the aim of making healthy food more affordable and accessible.
  • The company’s first kiosks, which serve 100% vegan food, launched in Stockholm at the end of last year, with ten already dotted around the city.
  • Meal choices at present include tomato stew with plant-based mince and jackfruit dishes, alongside vegan salads, wraps and snacks. Sweden is a country known for its love of sweet treats as snacks (check out the tradition of ‘fika’), but VEAT’s founders are keen to promote more nourishing snacks.
  • Sustainability is also on the minds of VEAT’s founders: any unsold food is donated to charity to reduce waste and has attracted investment from VC fund Pale Blue Dot, which invests exclusively in climate-friendly companies.
  • Last autumn, the brand raised half a million euros in a pre-seed funding round - money earmarked for expanding their healthy vending options to other European cities. 
  • The founders are particularly excited about scaling up this year - one of the advantages of vending machines is that companies can grow quickly - and are committed to keeping their prices affordable to the masses so many Europeans can enjoy their delicious plant-based fare. 

👍 The good

  • The sorts of locations where vending machines and smart fridges are being sited include hospitals, universities, offices and the like - all places where finding fresh food has often been like searching for a needle in a haystack. Greater options when it comes to fresh food and nutritious snacks is a boon for health-conscious consumers, and encourages healthier choices for everyone.
  • Vending machines and kiosks have a small physical footprint and can therefore be set up even in small spaces. This makes them a lower-cost way for young startups to launch their products in new locations, whether that’s existing office space or retail sites. 
  • Unattended catering is just that: unattended. Which means companies don’t need to invest time and money into finding and retaining the right staff. This can be an advantage for companies trying to keep costs low (though does mean more capital is needed upfront).

👎 The bad

  • Waste is pretty much a given when it comes to machines and kiosks that sell fresh food. Pascal Uffer, co-founder of Boostbar, says the average amount of unsold food is high, at around 30%. This isn’t great for profit margins, or for sustainability. 
  • Fresh food vending is also less profitable than selling snacks and drinks, which have the potential to be a 24/7 POS. Brands that diversify with a wider offering rather than a single focus are likely to see more success. 
  • And then there’s the fact that smart fridges in offices may need a rethink if we really are entering the post-pandemic, post-office era. This is already taking effect: several companies have withdrawn machines or closed down their operations as a direct result of the pandemic.

💡 The bottom line

  • While vending machines and smart fridges might seem like a way to get rich quick to the uninformed, the reality is a bit more complicated than that. 
  • Vending machines with a clear offering, in the right location and at the correct price point, are more likely to succeed and reaching your ideal demographic is key. In no doubt though, with ever-evolving technology, vending machines are casting off their old-school image and racing headlong into the future.

How did you like today's Trends?

Love it 😁 Meh 😐 Hate it 🙁

🍿 What is it?

  • Say ‘vending machine’ and you might picture a crumpled bag of crisps or a broken chocolate bar, slightly stale and often priced far above what you’d pay in a shop. 
  • But imagine if you could buy fresh meals made to order from a kiosk in your office or see your favourite plant-based snacks fall to the bottom of a touchless, contactless vending machine near you?
  • While this is far from the reality everywhere, it already is the reality somewhere. A host of startups in Europe and further afield are given the humble vending machine a refresh in public spaces and offices around the globe.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • Say farewell to the unhealthy, stale fare of vending machines as you know it: the new vending machine is all about food that tastes good and is good for the consumer. 
  • And the new vending machine is hyper-connected, often deploying robotics and AI to ensure a super-sleek and smooth experience for the user.
  • Some startups are focused on improving vending machines in public spaces, like hospitals, train stations and inner cities, while others have honed in on the office as a place where fresh food is often lacking and a space in the market exists to be exploited. So let’s take a look at exactly why the vending sector is ripe for a rethink… 

🤷 Why?

  • Food deserts are real and even in big cities, it can be difficult to find convenient healthy options for food on the go. Many modern food-vending companies were founded with the aim of providing customers with fresh, healthy or plant-based options at all hours of the day and night. This goes hand in hand with rising demand among certain demographics for healthier food options. 
  • The pandemic has certainly driven some of the growth in smart vending machines: suddenly, the thought of being able to grab a ready meal or snack without any human contact, and barely any physical touch, is something people are on the lookout for. Japan has deployed millions of vending machines during the pandemic alone.
  • F&B entrepreneurs are also looking to vending machines and kiosks as a lower-cost way to try out a new concept and reach consumers around the clock.
Source: Health Food Wall

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • Fully plant-based vending machines and kiosks are a big trend, drawing on the wider popularity of vegan food. VEAT in Sweden, Farmer’s Fridge in the US and Vegan Vend in the UK are all capitalising on this trend. 
  • Many companies in the modern vending sector are also driven by a desire to improve consumer health and offer more wholesome and sustainable options than your average vending machine. In the UK, Healthy Nibbles provides snacks through its 100% cashless machines: bestsellers include lentil chips and smoked almonds. Belgian family business Kjure offers full meals in takeaway form from its 40 vending machines across Belgium, including salads and fish dishes while Health Food Wall offers a similar service in the Netherlands. Also in Belgium, Albert’s sells healthy smoothies made by robots! 
  • Local food options are also proliferating. In France, rural farmers are even experimenting using vending machines to sell locally grown, fresh produce to consumers. During the coronavirus lockdown, UK food producers also used vending machines to boost their income and sell food to nearby consumers.
  • As offices have traditionally been locations where it’s tricky to get a fresh lunch, many companies began targeting the workplace sector - pitching their smart fridges and healthy lunch-dispensing automated canteens to big corporations for a monthly fee. Time will tell where the dust will fall when it comes to workplaces and Covid-19, but for now there’s still plenty working in this segment. Aitme offers a full-service automated canteen run using robotics and are based in Berlin, while Foodles and Totem are offering a similar service in France. Byte Kiosk utilises data collected from their smart fridges to determine what to stock in their units, helping to minimise waste and cut costs. 
  • When it comes to smart machines and fridges, the tech clearly needs to be up to scratch. Technology providers are the hidden champions of many disruptive food tech startups, according to Boostbar co-founder Pascal Uffer. Televend, Cantaloupe Inc, Stora Enso, Invenda Group and skimo.io are just a few of the companies working behind the scenes to make smart fridges and vending devices a success. Many of the new smart vending machines, fridges and office canteens offer a seamless experience for the user, featuring contactless payments, telemetry, touchscreens and robotics.
View our database of 25 vending machine companies

👀 Who? (30+ companies in this space)

  • Aitme (full-time automated robotic office canteen, Germany)
  • Alberts (smoothie stations, Belgium)
  • Basil Street Pizza (pizza vending machines, USA)
  • Boostbar (office refreshments & food, Switzerland)
  • Byte Kiosk (technology for vending, USA)
  • Chowbotics  (fresh food-making robot made to order, USA)
  • Drop Water (vending machine drinks bottled at POS, USA)
  • Farmer’s Fridge (plant-based vending machines, USA)
  • FEEL EAT (connected office fridges serving fresh food, Switzerland)
  • FELFEL (healthy office fridges, Switzerland)
  • Foodles (autonomous canteen concept, France)
  • Foorban (smart office fridges, Italy)
  • FrescoFrigo (smart fridges serving healthy food, Italy)
  • Health Food Wall (fresh healthy vending in airports, office and educational settings, Netherlands)
  • Healthy Nibbles (vending machines serving healthy snacks, UK)
  • HelloFreshGO (innovative office fridges, Germany) 
  • Kjure (vending machines offering healthy meals, Belgium)
  • La Cantoche by Treat (smart fridges for offices, Switzerland) 
  • Morsl (healthy, unattended catering for offices, Australia) 
  • Mother (fresh, healthy meals via vending machine, UK) 
  • Mr Lee’s Noodles (fresh noodle vending machines, UK)
  • myFITBOX (vending machines dispensing healthy snacks, 
  • Noury (unattended office catering, Switzerland)
  • NOWEAT (smart office fridges, Spain)
  • Snax (smart fridge for offices, Switzerland)
  • Selecta (Europe's leading vending & coffee services company, Switzerland)
  • The Treat by Maas (smart fridges and coffee machines for unmanned catering solutions, Netherlands)
  • Totem (office vending machines, France) 
  • Tsuta (Michelin-starred noodles via vending machines, Tokyo) 
  • Ultra Convenience (intelligent fridges, Portugal)
  • VEAT (plant-based vending machine, Sweden)
  • Vegan Vend (vegan vending machines, UK)
  • Wundermart (autonomous shop concepts, Netherlands)
  • YO-KAI EXPRESS (gourmet noodles by autonomous restaurants, USA)

📈 The figures

  • The global market for smart vending machines is estimated to be worth $720 million, and is expected to reach 1410 million USD by 2024.
  • Meanwhile, the global smart refrigerators market is valued at over $253.9 million and is growing at a CAGR of 13.7%.

☕️ Case study: Boostbar

  • Boostbar is a Zurich-based startup founded by Pascal Uffer, the former COO and Innovation Head of Selecta, Europe's leading vending & coffee services company. 
  • The startup focused on driving innovation in the workplace refreshment segment. Founded in 2020, the company sells modular hardware such as fridges, freezers and coffee machines controlled and monitored via smart sensors. 
  • Their devices supply premium coffee, healthy snacks and nourishing drinks to firms large and small - thanks to their pick-and-mix offering, their range is suitable for a range of clients, whether they have 20 or 1,000 employees.
  • Boostbar have already installed their signature ‘Boostbars’ in offices and warehouses across Switzerland, as well as hotels and catering providers who wish to supplement their existing services.
  • But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Co-founder Pascal Uffer said: ‘Fresh food vending is structurally unattractive. High labour costs, high amounts of unsold food, the only way to earn money is through a high monthly charge.’ That’s why Boostbar have focused their efforts on modular tech instead.
  • In June 2021, Boostbar announced the completion of a capital funding round led by BackBone Ventures. The money will be put to good use to scale up more quickly and expand the company’s product range. 

🥬 Case study: VEAT

  • Swedish startup VEAT was founded in 2019: the company’s plant-based vending machines are designed with the aim of making healthy food more affordable and accessible.
  • The company’s first kiosks, which serve 100% vegan food, launched in Stockholm at the end of last year, with ten already dotted around the city.
  • Meal choices at present include tomato stew with plant-based mince and jackfruit dishes, alongside vegan salads, wraps and snacks. Sweden is a country known for its love of sweet treats as snacks (check out the tradition of ‘fika’), but VEAT’s founders are keen to promote more nourishing snacks.
  • Sustainability is also on the minds of VEAT’s founders: any unsold food is donated to charity to reduce waste and has attracted investment from VC fund Pale Blue Dot, which invests exclusively in climate-friendly companies.
  • Last autumn, the brand raised half a million euros in a pre-seed funding round - money earmarked for expanding their healthy vending options to other European cities. 
  • The founders are particularly excited about scaling up this year - one of the advantages of vending machines is that companies can grow quickly - and are committed to keeping their prices affordable to the masses so many Europeans can enjoy their delicious plant-based fare. 

👍 The good

  • The sorts of locations where vending machines and smart fridges are being sited include hospitals, universities, offices and the like - all places where finding fresh food has often been like searching for a needle in a haystack. Greater options when it comes to fresh food and nutritious snacks is a boon for health-conscious consumers, and encourages healthier choices for everyone.
  • Vending machines and kiosks have a small physical footprint and can therefore be set up even in small spaces. This makes them a lower-cost way for young startups to launch their products in new locations, whether that’s existing office space or retail sites. 
  • Unattended catering is just that: unattended. Which means companies don’t need to invest time and money into finding and retaining the right staff. This can be an advantage for companies trying to keep costs low (though does mean more capital is needed upfront).

👎 The bad

  • Waste is pretty much a given when it comes to machines and kiosks that sell fresh food. Pascal Uffer, co-founder of Boostbar, says the average amount of unsold food is high, at around 30%. This isn’t great for profit margins, or for sustainability. 
  • Fresh food vending is also less profitable than selling snacks and drinks, which have the potential to be a 24/7 POS. Brands that diversify with a wider offering rather than a single focus are likely to see more success. 
  • And then there’s the fact that smart fridges in offices may need a rethink if we really are entering the post-pandemic, post-office era. This is already taking effect: several companies have withdrawn machines or closed down their operations as a direct result of the pandemic.

💡 The bottom line

  • While vending machines and smart fridges might seem like a way to get rich quick to the uninformed, the reality is a bit more complicated than that. 
  • Vending machines with a clear offering, in the right location and at the correct price point, are more likely to succeed and reaching your ideal demographic is key. In no doubt though, with ever-evolving technology, vending machines are casting off their old-school image and racing headlong into the future.

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🍿 What is it?

  • Say ‘vending machine’ and you might picture a crumpled bag of crisps or a broken chocolate bar, slightly stale and often priced far above what you’d pay in a shop. 
  • But imagine if you could buy fresh meals made to order from a kiosk in your office or see your favourite plant-based snacks fall to the bottom of a touchless, contactless vending machine near you?
  • While this is far from the reality everywhere, it already is the reality somewhere. A host of startups in Europe and further afield are given the humble vending machine a refresh in public spaces and offices around the globe.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • Say farewell to the unhealthy, stale fare of vending machines as you know it: the new vending machine is all about food that tastes good and is good for the consumer. 
  • And the new vending machine is hyper-connected, often deploying robotics and AI to ensure a super-sleek and smooth experience for the user.
  • Some startups are focused on improving vending machines in public spaces, like hospitals, train stations and inner cities, while others have honed in on the office as a place where fresh food is often lacking and a space in the market exists to be exploited. So let’s take a look at exactly why the vending sector is ripe for a rethink… 

🤷 Why?

  • Food deserts are real and even in big cities, it can be difficult to find convenient healthy options for food on the go. Many modern food-vending companies were founded with the aim of providing customers with fresh, healthy or plant-based options at all hours of the day and night. This goes hand in hand with rising demand among certain demographics for healthier food options. 
  • The pandemic has certainly driven some of the growth in smart vending machines: suddenly, the thought of being able to grab a ready meal or snack without any human contact, and barely any physical touch, is something people are on the lookout for. Japan has deployed millions of vending machines during the pandemic alone.
  • F&B entrepreneurs are also looking to vending machines and kiosks as a lower-cost way to try out a new concept and reach consumers around the clock.
Source: Health Food Wall

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • Fully plant-based vending machines and kiosks are a big trend, drawing on the wider popularity of vegan food. VEAT in Sweden, Farmer’s Fridge in the US and Vegan Vend in the UK are all capitalising on this trend. 
  • Many companies in the modern vending sector are also driven by a desire to improve consumer health and offer more wholesome and sustainable options than your average vending machine. In the UK, Healthy Nibbles provides snacks through its 100% cashless machines: bestsellers include lentil chips and smoked almonds. Belgian family business Kjure offers full meals in takeaway form from its 40 vending machines across Belgium, including salads and fish dishes while Health Food Wall offers a similar service in the Netherlands. Also in Belgium, Albert’s sells healthy smoothies made by robots! 
  • Local food options are also proliferating. In France, rural farmers are even experimenting using vending machines to sell locally grown, fresh produce to consumers. During the coronavirus lockdown, UK food producers also used vending machines to boost their income and sell food to nearby consumers.
  • As offices have traditionally been locations where it’s tricky to get a fresh lunch, many companies began targeting the workplace sector - pitching their smart fridges and healthy lunch-dispensing automated canteens to big corporations for a monthly fee. Time will tell where the dust will fall when it comes to workplaces and Covid-19, but for now there’s still plenty working in this segment. Aitme offers a full-service automated canteen run using robotics and are based in Berlin, while Foodles and Totem are offering a similar service in France. Byte Kiosk utilises data collected from their smart fridges to determine what to stock in their units, helping to minimise waste and cut costs. 
  • When it comes to smart machines and fridges, the tech clearly needs to be up to scratch. Technology providers are the hidden champions of many disruptive food tech startups, according to Boostbar co-founder Pascal Uffer. Televend, Cantaloupe Inc, Stora Enso, Invenda Group and skimo.io are just a few of the companies working behind the scenes to make smart fridges and vending devices a success. Many of the new smart vending machines, fridges and office canteens offer a seamless experience for the user, featuring contactless payments, telemetry, touchscreens and robotics.
View our database of 25 vending machine companies

👀 Who? (30+ companies in this space)

  • Aitme (full-time automated robotic office canteen, Germany)
  • Alberts (smoothie stations, Belgium)
  • Basil Street Pizza (pizza vending machines, USA)
  • Boostbar (office refreshments & food, Switzerland)
  • Byte Kiosk (technology for vending, USA)
  • Chowbotics  (fresh food-making robot made to order, USA)
  • Drop Water (vending machine drinks bottled at POS, USA)
  • Farmer’s Fridge (plant-based vending machines, USA)
  • FEEL EAT (connected office fridges serving fresh food, Switzerland)
  • FELFEL (healthy office fridges, Switzerland)
  • Foodles (autonomous canteen concept, France)
  • Foorban (smart office fridges, Italy)
  • FrescoFrigo (smart fridges serving healthy food, Italy)
  • Health Food Wall (fresh healthy vending in airports, office and educational settings, Netherlands)
  • Healthy Nibbles (vending machines serving healthy snacks, UK)
  • HelloFreshGO (innovative office fridges, Germany) 
  • Kjure (vending machines offering healthy meals, Belgium)
  • La Cantoche by Treat (smart fridges for offices, Switzerland) 
  • Morsl (healthy, unattended catering for offices, Australia) 
  • Mother (fresh, healthy meals via vending machine, UK) 
  • Mr Lee’s Noodles (fresh noodle vending machines, UK)
  • myFITBOX (vending machines dispensing healthy snacks, 
  • Noury (unattended office catering, Switzerland)
  • NOWEAT (smart office fridges, Spain)
  • Snax (smart fridge for offices, Switzerland)
  • Selecta (Europe's leading vending & coffee services company, Switzerland)
  • The Treat by Maas (smart fridges and coffee machines for unmanned catering solutions, Netherlands)
  • Totem (office vending machines, France) 
  • Tsuta (Michelin-starred noodles via vending machines, Tokyo) 
  • Ultra Convenience (intelligent fridges, Portugal)
  • VEAT (plant-based vending machine, Sweden)
  • Vegan Vend (vegan vending machines, UK)
  • Wundermart (autonomous shop concepts, Netherlands)
  • YO-KAI EXPRESS (gourmet noodles by autonomous restaurants, USA)

📈 The figures

  • The global market for smart vending machines is estimated to be worth $720 million, and is expected to reach 1410 million USD by 2024.
  • Meanwhile, the global smart refrigerators market is valued at over $253.9 million and is growing at a CAGR of 13.7%.

☕️ Case study: Boostbar

  • Boostbar is a Zurich-based startup founded by Pascal Uffer, the former COO and Innovation Head of Selecta, Europe's leading vending & coffee services company. 
  • The startup focused on driving innovation in the workplace refreshment segment. Founded in 2020, the company sells modular hardware such as fridges, freezers and coffee machines controlled and monitored via smart sensors. 
  • Their devices supply premium coffee, healthy snacks and nourishing drinks to firms large and small - thanks to their pick-and-mix offering, their range is suitable for a range of clients, whether they have 20 or 1,000 employees.
  • Boostbar have already installed their signature ‘Boostbars’ in offices and warehouses across Switzerland, as well as hotels and catering providers who wish to supplement their existing services.
  • But it hasn’t all been plain sailing. Co-founder Pascal Uffer said: ‘Fresh food vending is structurally unattractive. High labour costs, high amounts of unsold food, the only way to earn money is through a high monthly charge.’ That’s why Boostbar have focused their efforts on modular tech instead.
  • In June 2021, Boostbar announced the completion of a capital funding round led by BackBone Ventures. The money will be put to good use to scale up more quickly and expand the company’s product range. 

🥬 Case study: VEAT

  • Swedish startup VEAT was founded in 2019: the company’s plant-based vending machines are designed with the aim of making healthy food more affordable and accessible.
  • The company’s first kiosks, which serve 100% vegan food, launched in Stockholm at the end of last year, with ten already dotted around the city.
  • Meal choices at present include tomato stew with plant-based mince and jackfruit dishes, alongside vegan salads, wraps and snacks. Sweden is a country known for its love of sweet treats as snacks (check out the tradition of ‘fika’), but VEAT’s founders are keen to promote more nourishing snacks.
  • Sustainability is also on the minds of VEAT’s founders: any unsold food is donated to charity to reduce waste and has attracted investment from VC fund Pale Blue Dot, which invests exclusively in climate-friendly companies.
  • Last autumn, the brand raised half a million euros in a pre-seed funding round - money earmarked for expanding their healthy vending options to other European cities. 
  • The founders are particularly excited about scaling up this year - one of the advantages of vending machines is that companies can grow quickly - and are committed to keeping their prices affordable to the masses so many Europeans can enjoy their delicious plant-based fare. 

👍 The good

  • The sorts of locations where vending machines and smart fridges are being sited include hospitals, universities, offices and the like - all places where finding fresh food has often been like searching for a needle in a haystack. Greater options when it comes to fresh food and nutritious snacks is a boon for health-conscious consumers, and encourages healthier choices for everyone.
  • Vending machines and kiosks have a small physical footprint and can therefore be set up even in small spaces. This makes them a lower-cost way for young startups to launch their products in new locations, whether that’s existing office space or retail sites. 
  • Unattended catering is just that: unattended. Which means companies don’t need to invest time and money into finding and retaining the right staff. This can be an advantage for companies trying to keep costs low (though does mean more capital is needed upfront).

👎 The bad

  • Waste is pretty much a given when it comes to machines and kiosks that sell fresh food. Pascal Uffer, co-founder of Boostbar, says the average amount of unsold food is high, at around 30%. This isn’t great for profit margins, or for sustainability. 
  • Fresh food vending is also less profitable than selling snacks and drinks, which have the potential to be a 24/7 POS. Brands that diversify with a wider offering rather than a single focus are likely to see more success. 
  • And then there’s the fact that smart fridges in offices may need a rethink if we really are entering the post-pandemic, post-office era. This is already taking effect: several companies have withdrawn machines or closed down their operations as a direct result of the pandemic.

💡 The bottom line

  • While vending machines and smart fridges might seem like a way to get rich quick to the uninformed, the reality is a bit more complicated than that. 
  • Vending machines with a clear offering, in the right location and at the correct price point, are more likely to succeed and reaching your ideal demographic is key. In no doubt though, with ever-evolving technology, vending machines are casting off their old-school image and racing headlong into the future.

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