Money & Business

Vending Machine Group’s New Plan: More Healthy Offerings

By / Oct 25, 2019 (kasto80/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

The National Automatic Merchandising Association is bringing together its members in an industry-wide effort to increase the share of healthy snacks in vending machines by 40 percent.

The knock on vending machines, long story short, has always been that it’s hard to find anything healthy in them. But this week, the National Automatic Merchandising Association, which represents the vending industry, announced a new initiative to give consumers more healthy choices.

Its “Public Health Commitment” is a plan to increase the share of healthy options in vending machines nationwide from 24 percent to 33 percent over three years—a 40 percent increase in the amount of “better for you” options overall. NAMA teamed with two nutrition advocacy groups, the Partnership for a Healthier America and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, on the new initiative.

“There are nearly 4 million vending machines serving snacks and beverages every day, 24/7, across this country,” NAMA CEO Carla Balakgie said in a news release [PDF]. “Vending is everywhere consumers work, play, and live, and NAMA regards this initiative as a bold, ambitious, and meaningful step to meet the growing consumer demand for healthier choices.”

In comments to The Washington Post, Nancy E. Roman, CEO of the Partnership for a Healthier America, said the initiative responds to a broad cultural change in what people want to eat.

“The entire population would like to eat better food products—truck drivers want a chance to eat better food, millennials and Gen Z are leading the way,” Roman said. “It’s the vending industry positioning itself for tomorrow’s consumers. It will make a meaningful change in the food culture and drive shifts in food production.”

Roman’s group will conduct audits of vending machines to confirm that the industry is meeting its commitment. The initiative builds on FitPick,  NAMA’s “better for you” food-labeling program, which identifies foods that meet at least two recognized public health standards.

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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