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The vending industry is growing to accommodate the demand for convenience and healthful foods. From healthy vending machines to entertainment-focused machines like Redbox, vending machines are a common fixture nearly everywhere you can imagine.

Healthy Vending Machines Gain Prominence

Entrepreneur Magazine‘s Franchise 500, the world’s most comprehensive franchise ranking, is a clear indication of the growth of food franchises, specifically vending. Per the magazine: “Food franchises dominate the Franchise 500®, making up half of the top 10 and more than a quarter of all ranked companies. It’s no surprise, since the category contains some of the oldest and biggest franchises around. But there are plenty of newer, smaller franchises making their mark, too.

[Vending is] an industry that has shied away from franchising in the past, but with three companies that started franchising only in the past few years [including HUMAN] making our rankings, we may soon see others follow in their footsteps” [here].

Additionally, according to a recent article by Franchise Chatter: “The vending industry has changed significantly in just the last few years but food and beverage sales are still the leaders, with a lot more room for growth, especially in food vending. In 2011, vended food brought in $820 million” [here].

Leading to growth in the vending industry are the consumer demand for healthful options and legislation that is making healthier food required.

USDA’s “Smart Snacks In School”

We’ve discussed the USDA’s Smart Snacks In School Interim Final rules quite a bit, but the rules’ imminence is a reminder of how nutrition legislation is creating a demand for healthy vending machines. The rules, which apply to any school that participates in the National School Lunch Program, go into effect on July 1st.

The gist of the rules: they set nutrient limits and ingredient requirements for all “competitive foods” sold during the school day and 30 minutes thereafter. Competitive foods are foods and beverages sold in vending machines, a la carte, student stores and via fundraising.

There are still a few gray areas in the rules, including whether corn meal qualifies as a whole grain under the rule. We got word that this is something the FDA will soon clarify (the USDA defers to the FDA, rightfully, on what constitutes a whole grain).

Additionally, the USDA is drafting legislation that would amend section 303 of the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010 to give the USDA the mechanism to assess fees for egregious non-compliance with the new rules (though technical assistance is always the first resort). Currently, it is state agencies that have the authority to assess fines for non-compliance with competitive food rules.

To learn more about Smart Snacks In School, please read the FAQ on our dedicated resource site here.

FDA Calorie Disclosure Rule Eases Up

Now, in legislation that causes a stir then dies off then is born again then completely changes due to lobbying, let’s move on to the FDA’s calorie disclosure rule…

The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010 (Affordable Care Act) includes a vending-focused calorie disclosure rule [click here to read the official docket], which is still in its proposed form (even though it was said to be finalized by this past February).

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives Appropriations Committee voted to include report language in its fiscal 2015 Agriculture Appropriations bill recommending standards to the FDA that vending operators could meet to comply with these pending calorie disclosure rules.

According to Vending Times, “The language is as follows: ‘To meet the requirements of the law, FDA should accept a clear, visible display of calories on the front of the package of articles of food sold from a vending machine or on the front of the vending machine as meeting such requirements.’

‘If adopted by the FDA, it has the potential to save operators and suppliers alike the tens of thousands of dollars it would have cost them each year to comply with onerous regulations,’ said Eric Dell, senior vice-president of government affairs for the National Automatic Merchandising Association [here].”

To give you an example of what the rule originally proposed:

  • Vending operators with 20 or more machines will have to display the # of calories in each item in their vending machines “in close proximity to each article of food or the selection button that includes a clear and conspicuous statement disclosing the number of calories contained in the article of food.”
  • Calories need to be expressed to the nearest 5-calorie increment up to and including 50 calories, and 10-calorie increments above 50 calories. An item with fewer than 5 calories can be declared as having zero calories.
  • The term “Calories” or “Cal” must accompany the number of calories listed.
  • Calories must be calculated for the entire item/package as sold. So, if the item has 2 servings and each serving is 150 calories, the calories label must list, “300 Cal”
  • No information other than calories will be required.

So, the Agriculture Appropriations Bill would certainly give vending operators a break. The next step is for the Bill to be voted on in the full U.S. House of Representatives.

While this type of legislation may seem too restrictive, it’s really another illustration of how both consumer demand and legislation are working together to make the our environment more conducive to healthful choices.

Do you want to capitalize on the demand for healthy vending?

Become a part of the HUMAN brand as a franchisee by downloading:

The Ultimate Insider’s Guide To Launching & Growing A Healthy Automated Retail Business.”


For information on having a healthy vending machine, healthy micro market or snack delivery service at your location, please click here.

We’d love to get to know you and answer all of your questions!

© HUMAN Healthy Vending,, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to HUMAN Healthy Vending with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


Biomedical Engineer who earned his degree from The Johns Hopkins University & Columbia University. Named one of Forbes’ Top 30 Under 30 in 2013. Co-Founded America’s first Pure Play healthy vending company in 2003.
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