You Can’t Stop The Machine
Pamela Accetta Smith
(847) 405-4069
paccetta@stagnito.com
Recently spotted in Japan: vending machines that sell software, e-books and games for PalmPilots and Pocket PCs.
According to www.engadget.com, you just pick the one you want, select your preferred memory card format (CompactFlash, SD or Memory Stick), and out pops a personal software card. Now that’s taking the good old-fashioned vending machine to new heights.
And talk about thinking outside the proverbial box. According to www.wonderpizzausa.com, America’s most popular food will be available in places that never had it, thanks to five years and $6 million dollars of R&D by Wonder Pizza of Italy. The company’s vending machine cooks and serves 9-inch whole pizza pies in only two minutes, its Web site boasts. You can pick from three varieties, with a suggested retail price of $5. With Connie’s Pizza of Chicago featured in all WonderPizza Kiosks, the product is now beginning worldwide distribution.
That said, I am truly excited about the future of dairy vending. In my research for this month’s Focus Feature on the vend channel, innovation in dairy vending has been in the works for a while. In fact, in 2004, dairy firm Fonterra and vitamin maker BASF funded research to create high-tech vending machines that could customize foods to an individual’s dietary requirements, as reported on www.nutraingredients-usa.com.
The project, to be carried out at a new university-based functional foods center in New Zealand, aims to invent the convenience food category of the future, based on a system called POSIFoods, or “point-of-sale individualized foods.” Instead of merely choosing from a range of different snacks, the POSIFood system would allow consumers to alter the nutritional make-up of foods and drinks offered to suit their personal health needs.
For example, a 60-year-old woman, concerned about osteoporosis and iron levels, could opt for a product high in a dairy calcium and iron, just by pressing a button. A man could choose the same food but decide to have it enriched with omega-3 to help lower his cholesterol. Other nutrients such as vitamins, minerals and antioxidants could be mixed and matched to suit personal dietary needs. Snacks could also be tailored for weight management, heart health or be low in sugar for diabetics.
Officials at Fonterra, the world’s largest dairy ingredients firm, hope the four-year project will open up new markets and export opportunities for value-added, dairy-based foods. The firm already offers a range of consumer dairy products targeted to specific nutrition needs such as Anmum milk powders for pregnant and lactating mothers, and high-calcium Anlene for those susceptible to osteoporosis. The high-tech vending system could also be used in schools to allay increasing concerns about children’s eating patterns.
And as reported in this month’s vending feature, Moo Bella has taken ice cream enjoyment one step further by dispensing freshly scooped ice cream in 12 flavors, with three different mix-ins. So, then, why not fresh yogurt smoothies, yogurt with mix-ins or even cottage cheese with a “fruit-of-your-choice” button. Or heck, let’s take it one step further and offer veggie toppings.
I am so proud of all the milk vending studies our industry has conducted and supported over the years. They have really paved the way for future innovation in dairy vending.