Vending machines could be used as a way to encourage consumers to eat more healthily, according to food and grocery industry think tank IGD’s new consumer research. 

The research found that the majority of consumers welcomed the choice of healthy options in vending machines. IGD said that whilst a number of challenges needed to be overcome, the research suggests that it could be an opportunity for market growth in this sector.

According to IGD, 56% of people use a vending machine regularly. The most likely users are thirty-four years old or younger, working full-time and most likely to be living in either Greater London or Scotland.  The most frequent place of use was at work (20%) followed by hospitals (15%). Around 10% of consumers use vending machines at a gym or leisure centre.

Consumers identified a wide range of foods to include in ‘healthy vending’, including cereal bars, low fat crisps, nuts, dried fruit and yoghurt.  Whilst fruit and salads were consumers’ top choices, IGD said that a number of concerns, such as freshness, food safety and damage to the product, would need to be resolved if the selection of these products is to be encouraged.

“Our research showed there is a huge opportunity for industry to respond both to consumers’ demands for convenience and their desire to eat healthily by supplying vending machines with options which offer a healthy, quick and convenient snack,” said Joanne Denney-Finch, chief executive of IGD.