With the global vending machine market set to grow by $9.33bn between 2021 and 2025, Livewell Vending Managing Director, Aaron Prout, explores the future of vending services in a post-pandemic world.

It’s been over a year since the emergence of COVID-19 caused unprecedented disruption to life as we know it.

The vending industry, like most others, took a huge hit during the pandemic. The impact of closures across key sectors such as travel, education, leisure and commercial offices brought the industry to an almost complete halt.

However, as lockdown restrictions continue to ease and our new normal sets in, we’re set to see a significant increase in demand for out-of-home and on-the-go dining experiences.

As a result, the landscape for vending solutions is changing. The demand for safe, low contact access to high quality food and drink on-the-go is on the rise.

In turn, the global vending machine market is poised to grow by $9.33bn between 2021 and 2025, fuelled by this surge in demand for contactless, automated refreshment stations and vending machines.

The role of technology in the future

of vending Technology is playing a leading role in the growth in demand for vending machines, micro markets and refreshment stations.

Cashless payments and contactless transactions via distance selection technology enables consumers to select and pay for their goods seamlessly with low to no contact. With stricter hygiene practices a top priority for many following the pandemic, and sanitisation stations set to stay as part of our new normal, long gone are the days of communal catering where cutlery and crockery are shared.

“The global vending machine market is poised to grow by $9.33bn between 2021 and 2025.”

Seen as a more cost-effective alternative to on-site catering and a step up from traditional vending, we expect to see more and more businesses making the swap to automated, contactless systems to cater to more flexible working conditions.

On-the-go food and drink trends for 2021 Health-conscious consumers A 2020 survey conducted by FMCG Gurus found that 80%


of consumers worldwide indicated they were planning to eat and drink more healthily in 2021 as a direct result of COVID-19. Although at present, our top performing food and drink products are as you’d expect in the convenience sector - crisps, confectionery and soft drinks - trends indicate a move towards incorporating healthier stock.

“Environmental considerations are of growing importance in the vending space.”

The rise of vegans, vegetarians and flexitarians

For some time now, vegan and plant-based diets have been gaining popularity, a trend accelerated by the pandemic. We can expect to see a diversification of on-the-go product ranges, catering to vegetarians and vegans, plus the environmentally conscious consumers and flexitarians.

Eco-conscious consumers

The entire supply chain is now under closer inspection from consumers on their path to purchase - from ingredient sourcing, production and manufacturing, to packaging, transportation and recycling. As a result, environmental considerations are of growing importance in the vending space, for suppliers, catering managers and consumers alike.

Support local

With a major push for supporting local businesses throughout the pandemic, and the rise of independent food and drink brands, future vending displays may be set to feature more SME FMCG brands alongside long-standing favourites like Walkers and Coca-Cola.

What’s next? As technology continues to evolve, vending is shedding its old-school image of clunky functionality and coin counting, upgrading to a seamless, sleek new look. With touchscreens, telemetry, and contactless payments, it’s time for offices, schools, hospitals, universities and gyms to upgrade their on-the-go dining offer, catering to changing consumer needs and simplifying the stock management process.

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