Nutritional Information On Vending Machines:
Outraged Vendors Don’t Have a Clue
A new law signed into effect back in March will require all vending machines to display nutritional information about each product so consumers can make more informed decisions. Sounds reasonable, right? Don’t you want to know what’s in the food you’re buying BEFORE you buy it? However, some vendors think this law is unreasonable. Apparently, consumers don’t need to have this information because it will take too much of the vendors’ time. What do you think?
What Is This Law All About?
The new regulation applies to both restaurants and vending machines. The measure states that “chain restaurants and similar retail food establishments (SRFE) with 20 or more locations doing business under the same name and offering for sale substantially the same menu items…as well as operators of 20 or more vending machines…to disclose certain nutrition information for certain food items offered for sale so that consumers can make more informed choices about the food they purchase.” This basically means that vending machine customers need to have access to the nutritional information for any and every item in the vending machine. Just as you check labels at the supermarket before you make a purchase, customers will now be able to compare labels of vending machine items to help them make better decisions.
Traditional Vendors Are Outraged
Owners and operators of old-fashioned machines are incensed because the FDA estimates that adding this type of information will take 14 million hours each year. Vendors apparently don’t have the time to keep this information up to date and don’t want to spend the extra money it may take to hire personnel to adhere to the new regulation. The complaint is that since they switch out items regularly, new labels would need to be added each time. Depending on how you go about this, it could take some extra time, yes. But there are ways to handle this new law without breaking the budget. The vending machine industry even questions the need for the new requirement in the first place. Senior vice president of government affairs for the National Automatic Merchandising Association, Ned Monroe, said, “Considering that most products purchased out of a vending machine are the same one that are well known and available in other retail channels everywhere, and not prepared menu items where consumers may be unaware of what the nutritional content is, we question whether this measure is necessary at all.” He also said this measure would “kill jobs” and the time needed to comply with it is “absurd.”
Technology Easily Handles The Requirement
Human Healthy Vending is elated about this new requirement for all vending machines. Why? Because we have already been doing this for years! Automated retail allows technology to take center stage, giving customers nutritional information and much more. The LCD screen(s) included with each machine gives customers all the information they need. The information on these screens is completely customizable and can be set up to show nutritional information in a number of ways. One of our machines allows the user to select a product using touch screen technology. Once they select that product, our machine can either show that product’s nutritional information on that same touch screen, or we can display the information on another LCD screen above that touch screen at eye level. The secret to this whole process is touch screen vending. Human makes it easy to display this information to customers. We can easily conform to this new mandate while others are just complaining!
Informed Consumers Are Better Consumers
I think we can all agree that an informed consumer is a smarter consumer. And with obesity rates as high as they are, I don’t see how vendors can argue against making consumers, their customers, more informed. Perhaps if consumers saw the labels of the junk food in the vending machines, they wouldn’t make purchases from those machines in the first place. Is that what vendors are really afraid of? Healthy vending machines have nothing to hide! We put nutritional information front and center for all to see. We want our customers to make informed decisions. We also want our customers to be healthy, at any cost.