Vending machines could open up the fruit and veg market for Scottish producers. Vending systems have many advantages and the latest tech developments have all sorts of market implications for producers and consumers.
Farmers and consumers have traded directly for centuries, but with urbanisation and the growth of multiple retailers, this connection has been muddied a bit.
Recently, with farmers’ markets and honesty boxes, there’s been a return to more direct trading. As the demand for local produce increases, farm vending machines could offer a convenient way of delivering fresh produce to the consumer twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
Proving more reliable, efficient and secure than honesty boxes, vending machines could help producers take advantage of the growing convenience market. With consumers choosing healthier, on-the-go options, fruit and veg could potentially dislodge snacks and fast food out of their vending machine comfort zones. And this means healthier consumers choosing local food, which secures more sales for farmers and producers.
Vending machines 2018
Today’s vending machines offer more than just chocolates and fizzy drinks. In Japan, there's vending machine mania, with Japanese vending enthusiasts able to get everything from fresh fruit to noodles.
In the US, new start-up, Cargo, is aiming to put vending machines in all Uber cars, effectively turning them into on-the-go shops.
And vending machines filled with healthy snacks, fresh produce like milk, meat, eggs and even oysters, as well as vegan ready meals, are popping up around the world.
Advantages of vending systems
Produce can be sold 24/7 in vending machines, including weekends and holidays. Farmers can determine their own prices, and make savings on service costs.
Sales don't have to rely on farm shop opening hours, and food can be stored in a clean environment, safe from damage and theft.
Other advantages are that machines can be located in prime customer areas, more diverse products can be sold, and producers can supply the rising demand for local, healthy and convenient food-on-the-go options.
Challenges to overcome
Vending machines aren’t particularly cheap. Investment and running costs can be high, and there are hygiene, packaging, and quality documentation restrictions. Plus, location is everything. Finding the right location, close to supermarkets, main roads, and cities can be the key to success.
Some Scottish farmers and producers have already overcome these challenges, and have integrated vending machines effectively into their businesses.
Scottish vending front-runners
The first farm shop in Scotland to operate a farm food vending machine was the Blairgowrie Farm Shop near Perthshire. It has been successfully selling Scottish eggs to Scottish consumers from its J.S.R. Services vending machine since 2015.
Scotland's J.S.R. Services has 46 machines in operation throughout the UK, selling produce from eggs, potatoes, fresh vegetables, and salads, to jams and breads.
The Grewer Farm Shop has four fruit and veg vending machines in shopping centres in Dundee and Perth. Grewer's machines also offer vegetable boxes and seasonal veggie variations for the Christmas market.
And organic dairy, Forest Farm, has a milk machine in Aberdeenshire. The machine can fill up a complimentary plastic bottle with milk, or consumers can pay extra for one of the farm's glass bottles, which can then be reused.
Various brands of versatile food vending machines are available. These machines can sell all kinds of chilled and non-chilled produce. Farmers and producers can choose various locker sizes, anything from 10-100 lockers, set individual prices for different products, and even decide on the payment method.
Vending machines can be a good outlets for sales, because they can allow consumers to know exactly where their food comes from, and gives them access to fresh food whenever they want it.
If you want to understand more about vending machines in Scotland, get in touch. Our innovation connectors are here to help you diversify and find more outlets for products. Part of our Make Innovation Happen service, our connectors can help any Scottish food and drink companies grow and reach new customer bases.
So, whether you’re looking to improve your product development, processes or employees training and skills, we can help with expert knowledge and support.
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