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The Vending industry: do you have any idea of what it is?
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The Vending industry: do you have any idea of what it is?

As promised in a previous article, and thanks to some encounters I had on recent events, here comes a little overview of the vending sector. I thought it was appropriate as the industry is a bit unknown, often not considered, and sometimes taken for granted. Hopefully you already had guessed that your office’s coffee corner is not a magical place that functions thanks to mysterious powers.


Let’s start with a couple of definitions

By Vending, you should understand the sale of goods and services via machines. Those machines can be located in a public site or at a client location. All kinds of goods can be dispensed be the machines, food, drinks (hot or cold), non-food items (e.g. hygiene…)

Often in the sector people also look at a specific part of Vending, the Office Coffee Service. The OCS refers to the tabletop machines dispensing hot drinks in the office environment. An operator provides the maintenance and supply.

One can find different types of machine

  • Tabletop (often in OCS) or Free Standing (the ones you try to knock over if it swallows your coins and doesn’t give anything back)
  • Hot Drinks Machines, Closed Door Machines or Glass Fronted Machines
  • In the coffee service machines, professionals also distinguish
    • Instant: coffee is made by mixing powder (soluble or freeze dried) and hot water
    • Fresh brew: the hot water passes though ground fresh coffee with a pressure close to 0 bar
    • Espresso: a pump pushes hot water though ground fresh coffee with a pressure between 4 and 10 bars

(I will let you choose your favorite type between the last three)


Let’s talk numbers

According to the European Vending Association, the market’s most important figures are:

  • Approximately 295 million consumers use a machine at least once a week
  • You can find around 3,77 million machines in Europe
    • Around 60% of those machines (2,2 million) are hot drinks machines (and the majority of them are Tabletop types)
  • The industry employs more than 85.000 people (mainly blue collar workers)
  • The turnover of the industry is annually approximately 11.3 billion€
  • The biggest markets are: Italy, France, united Kingdom, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands
  • In Belgium
    • EVA counts around 100.000 machines
    •  The turnover of the industry is about 300 million €
    • It is segmented evenly in cold drinks (one third), hot drinks (one third) and snacks (one third)


What are the latest development and themes in the vending industry?

  • Product offer
    • Healthy snacks and drinks are more and more present in the vending machines
    • In terms of coffee, technological advances over the years have improved the quality. More and more you even hear the word Barista coming up
    • Regional products can also be noted when looking at the market. So you see, in the vending sector the trend can also be felt.
    • In line with another trend and customer demands, more Fairtrade products can be found in machines
  • Sustainability: Several efforts are made by the industry to reduce the impact of the activities on the environment. For example,
    • The use of led lights in machines
    • The energy efficiency has significantly improved over the years
    • Some devices can be installed to control the machines and even switch off the lights or chilling mechanism during less intensive periods (at night for example). Of course perishable items are maintained at a correct temperature.
    • Waste has also been thought off with recyclable or biodegradable cups
  • Payment systems: Far away is the time that you needed to iron your bank notes, or needed to introduce the exact amount of coins. Now next to cash, several payment methods are available such as credit cards, mobile payments…
  • Vending machines also embraced the digital age
    • Touchscreens are now fitted to the equipment, which allows to give targeted information to potential users
    • As mentioned the payment systems have significantly improved
    • For maintenance purposes or statistics even, reports of usage can be sent to operators or the mobile of the responsible in charge. This is also quite useful for defects detection.

Hopefully you now have a better view of the Vending sector. Maybe this extra information might even give you extra ideas for your business, or simply just a cool topic to discuss next time you are at the vending area with your colleagues.




An introduction to Vending: Telling the good story of coffee service and vending. (Update November 2014) by the European Vending Association, www.vending-europe.eu

Speech of Dr. Aris Kaschefi at the Anuga and Eu-Vend 2015 Press lunch on June 16, 2015

VendingEuropean Vending AssociationConvenienceTrendTendanceDr; Aris KaschefiEu-vendCoffeeAutomate