Monday, June 14, 2010


In any country where labor cost is very high, there is adequate incentives to go for systems that can circumvent human intervention. Vending machines that can offer packed foods, hot and cold beverages, cigarettes etc are ubiquitous by their presence in many developed countries where employing humans becomes cost prohibitive. Even in a country like Singapore, fresh cut fruit vending machines can be seen. These coin operated or credit card enabled machines serve a useful purpose for providing instant service to consumers. How ever the foods provided by these machines are not considered to be good quality as per the perception of the consumers. Surprisingly, despite the above limitation, vending industry is growing rapidly, obviously because of the ability of the consumers to tolerate sub-par foods as a trade of for convenience.

"I also learned, within minutes of arriving in the vast brightly lit hall, that the vending industry takes in $30 billion annually; and 100 million people, according to NAMA, find sustenance every day from 7 million vending machines. It is an industry never far from reach, steadfastly burrowed into our lives, and yet so intrinsic we rarely notice it or consider that the food inside vending machines has been made by humans, and that those people believe that vending machine food can taste good".

Consider the Indian condition. The only type of vending machine that is installed all over the country is the ATMs that dispense "notes" through swiping credit or debit cards. If ATM industry reflects a story of success, why food vending has not taken root in the country is a mystery. During the beginning of the Operation Flood program of NDDB, it was conceived that fresh milk vending machines would dispense milk for 24 hours a day but in stead milk booths were set up manned by personnel. Probably millions of small retail stores that dot the country offering personalized service to their customers preempt the necessity of vending machines which require enormous back up organization for servicing and maintaining hygiene and sanitation and timely refilling. Uncertain power supply makes the task all the more difficult, especially in case of refrigerated products.


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