Last week the Wall Street Journal published an article called 'The Great Banana Challenge.' The article discusses how a vending machine company in Des Moines, Ia is tackling the problem of dispensing healthy snacks from vending machines. They have taken the idea of healthy vending one step further than just promoting granola bars and crackers instead of chips and candy, Written Group Inc and Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc, have partnered together and are now creating vending machines capable of dispensing bananas and pre-cut fruits and veggies. The machines are very high-tech with tightly controlled temperature zones and elevators that help prevent fruit from bruising during their fall to the bottom.
Unfortunately, these machines cost $2000 more than regular vending machines. The cost of a fruit snack can be as much as $2.50 compared to $0.75-1.50 for more traditional options. That is a bit pricey for a snack, but companies need to cover the costs of operating the machine. If people find this too expensive, there is always the option of bringing fresh or precut produce to work from home. Also, many people do not even glance at the new healthy options, they habitually choose their favorite high fat, high calorie snacks. As we know, old habits die hard.
This article was a great follow up to hearing about the carrot vending machines in Ohio Schools. Even though there are critics of the healthy vending machines, no one can deny that they are a step in the right direction. For companies that do not have a cafeteria they could be a great way to give employees a chance to make a healthy choice. In the two hospitals that I work at, we are currently working with our foodservice and vending machine companies to implement a healthy vending program. While we do sell fresh fruit and vegetables at all meals, the cafeteria is not always open. We currently have no plans to bring in a fruit and veggie machine, but our program will make it easier for employees and patients to choose the healthier options.
What do you think? Would you buy bananas from a vending machine?