International Business News Writer
After exerting oneself through a busy day of classes and meetings, buying a cold drink from a vending machine may be a good option to cool down. Back in the day, vending machines used to be white metal boxes that dispensed mainly bottled drinks and snack bars. With advancing technology and increasing innovation, these machines have transformed and now serve a variety of other items. Vending machines in Japan are reported to give out lettuce and bananas. In Germany, farm-fresh breakfast foods such as sausages and eggs are possible options for buyers. Strangely enough, Singapore has taken the renowned convenience and efficiency of vending machines to the next level, offering an even wider array of unusual items. Machines now offer bread, curry puffs, freshly squeezed orange juice, freshly cooked pizza, and even cooked chili crab, which is a famous local favorite dish priced at sixty dollars.
According to Euromonitor International, the world’s leading independent provider of market research, the revenues in Singapore from vending machines alone grew from $91 million in 2014 to approximately $105 million in 2019, which is about a 15% increase in only five years. In addition to the expansion of the market, entrepreneurs in Singapore have expressed interest in selling products through vending machines due to other reasons. Manish Kumar, the managing director of Norwegian Salmon, states that the machines allow him to own his personal retail space. His products have to compete with those of other popular businesses that sell fresh salmon, but competition is less in the vending machine sector. Additionally, Mervin Tham, a founder of EasyMeat, says that products sold in vending machines continue to diversify due to the relatively low barriers to entry. It is an easy and cost-efficient way of testing a product out, especially if you want to start your own business.
Initially, 2020 was not a financially successful year for the national vending machine market, due to the pandemic. However, people have since then found advantages with buying from machines, rather than going to the supermarket. Some of these benefits are that vending machines are available 24/7, social distancing may be practiced, and the food is safe to eat. For these reasons, vending machine growth is expected to continue in the following years. In addition, vending machines played a vital role during Singapore’s pandemic response. Through the country’s sovereign wealth fund Temasek, Singapore was able to install 1,200 machines throughout the country to dispense free masks.
Vending machines have proven to be an efficient way for people to purchase food, especially late at night when grocery stores are closed. However, food is no longer the only thing provided by the machines; services and house appliances are part of the lineup as well. People can now have their laundry done and can buy items such as printer ink and detergent. With ever-increasing technology, it is possible that vending machines will provide even more services and items in the future.
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