Cook vending machines boost access to healthy foods


Frozen food specialist Cook is rolling out fully-automated vending machines to provide better access to fresh, healthy food in locations where there has historically been only limited options.


The plan is to have 15 vending machines operating this year following a successful trial of the units – developed in partnership with smart vending operator Mother – in the offices of travel company Holiday Extras.


Potential locations include office spaces, residential schemes, hospitals, travel hubs and schools where there has traditionally been a dearth of healthier, home-cooked options. 


Chris Portwood, chief sales officer at Cook, says: “The launch of our vending machines comes at an important time for the food and beverage industry, which in recent years has struggled to provide employees and residents with regular healthy meals due to an unprecedented, and unpredictable, shift in working patterns due to the rise in remote/flexible working.”


By combining frozen food and vending machines the partnership is able to offer fresh food and minimise waste, and help people move away from being wholly reliant on fast food options. Each machine will be able to offer 15 different options and hold up to 140 meals at a time. The meals are suitable for microwaving and will cost from £4.75.


The machines have been developed using the latest technology including interactive user interfaces, cashless and mobile payments, product filtering, nutritional information, product animations and special offers. The smart connected capability of the units also enables them to be monitored remotely for maintenance and for recognising when they need restocking. 


This move by Cook is tapping into a trend for vending machines, which have through technological advances become smarter and also more competitively priced over recent years. This has meant they can be placed in a growing number of locations that would not be able to support a full retail unit, which would need to have an employee on site and likely only operate during peak hours.


Although Cook has initially stipulated a roll out of 15 units this year, while it hones the proposition, the longer term potential could be strong as a result of the suitability of the machines to myriad locations and also the fact they tap into a number of societal and environmental trends.