You may think of vending machines as the place to go for your guilty pleasure snack – a bag of chips when you’re still hungry after lunch, a sugary soda to give you a temporary boost. But increasingly, people are turning to vending machines for healthier options. Will you be ready with healthy vending machine snacks when the opportunity presents itself?
The important thing is to focus on items that are both healthy and delicious. Healthy foods that just gather dust in your machine isn’t good for your business or your customers.
Consider why people buy from vending machines. Sometimes they just feel like a snack, but other times, they need lunch or can use an energy boost. Sugary snacks can offer a momentary boost, but healthy snacks can provide sustained energy to get people through their day or at least through to the next meal. That’s when they count on healthy vending companies to provide what they need.
Best Healthy Vending Machine Snacks
Take a look at our healthy vending machine snacks list for ideas to keep your customers and your wallet happy.
Candy Bars & Gum
Candy is not an ideal snack, but those that offer a combination of protein and fats can tide you over between meals. Some of the most popular options are Peanut M&M’s or Snickers each of which come in under 250 calories and provide a small protein boost.
Sugar-free gum such as Trident, Orbit, and Extra have earned the American Dental Association Seal of Acceptance and are ideal to freshen your breath when toothbrushing is not an option.
Cereal & Granola Bars
Granola bars are popular anytime option for those requiring a between-meal snack or even a mini-meal. A couple of popular options include Quaker Chewy Low-Fat Granola Bars (about 110 calories depending on flavor) and Nature Valley Granola Bars around 180 calories for two bars). Granola bars are a healthier option than candy bars.
Chips & Pretzels
Chips and pretzels offer little in the way of nutrition, but some whole grain options provide a bit of fiber and they make a popular savory snack. Consider options like Baked Lays, Sun Chips, popcorn or pretzels to keep your customers happy.
Fig Newtons often come to mind when considering which cookies may be on the healthier side. After all, they do offer a bit of fruit and fiber at only 190 calories. But even cookie treats like Mini Chips Ahoy can be a good snack choice. The selling point here is portion size with a single serving coming in at just 140 calories.
Once again whole grain is the way to go. They are tasty and typically don’t contain as much sugar as sweet snacks. Cheez-Its are popular, but Wheat Thins offer a higher dose of fiber. Packaged crackers filled with cheese or peanut butter are high in fat and surprisingly low in protein, meaning they’re not a great choice.
Dried fruit can make a great sweet treat. It does contain a lot of sugar, although it is typically natural sugar. Trail Mix that contains both fruit and nuts and gives this snack more staying power. Think outside the box with items like squeezable applesauce which is great on the go or fruit snacks and leathers.
Nutrition bars come under many labels such as breakfast or protein bars. Stock a mix to please a variety of customers. Some bars such as Clif or Luna bars are typically intended as a meal replacement and often weigh in over 200 calories, while items like Fiber One or Nutrigrain Bars are closer to 100 calories, making them more of a snack.
Seeds & Nuts
Seeds and nuts are among the best choices for savvy snackers. Peanuts, almonds, and sunflower seeds provide healthy fats, a bit of fiber and a protein boost – usually for about 160 calories for a single serving. Best of all these are popular snacks that will move fast from your vending machine.
Beef Jerky often gets a bad rap. While it’s often high in sodium and fat, it packs a ton of protein – nine grams in a one-ounce serving. That gives it staying power to stave off hunger for hours, all for only about 116 calories per ounce.
Best Healthy Vending Machine Drinks
Even individuals who wouldn’t dream of grabbing a vending machine snack will often purchase drinks. Give them the choice of refreshing water, tasty flavored drinks or even protein drinks that can serve as a meal replacement. Here are some winning options to add to your beverage vending machine.
Carbonated Soda & Seltzer Water
Soda is not as popular as it once was, but people do still enjoy an occasional treat. Give plenty of space to calorie-free sodas and add both plain and flavored seltzers as options. Even those who have given up soda will enjoy LaCroix or similar products.
Healthy Energy Drinks
The most popular option is probably Red Bull, which has a sugar free option. Other choices include V8 +Energy which gets its energy boost from green tea extract. It contains potassium, vitamin C, iron, and B vitamins and comes in several flavors such as peach mango and pomegranate blueberry.
There are a variety of juice options available, both the familiar such as orange, apple and vegetable, but there are trendier options such as goji berry and acai. This category also includes lower or no sugar Gatorade sports drinks.
Smoothies are a popular meal on the go option. Most people make them at home or buy them fresh, but in a pinch, your vending machine can give them a viable option. Popular brands are juice or kefir based. Protein drinks also fall into this category with brands such as Muscle Milk and Premier Protein available in dairy-free as well.
Tea & Coffee
Artificially sweetened and unsweetened options are both popular in the tea and coffee category. Green Tea has health benefits and natural sweetness. Coffee brands such as Starbucks offer sugar-free coffee options.
Water is one of the top choices for health-conscious vending machine customers. Dasani is a Coke brand, so you will often see it in their machines, but brands such as Polar Spring are also popular.
Best Healthy Vending Entrées
Increasingly people are eating on the go, and sometimes they want a full meal. Common options such as instant ramen are loaded with preservatives and sodium. That doesn’t mean there is any shortage of healthier meal options including noodles, pasta, rice, and soup. The struggle is stocking items that are shelf-stable. Consider these options:
Choose low sodium or vegan options for healthier noodle dishes. For example, One Culture Foods offers pho, spicy ramen, chicken noodle, and beef noodle soup all made with bone broth. Nissin and Thai kitchen offers a wide variety of flavors that are either low sodium or feature steamed rather than fried noodles.
Rice & Vegetables
Vending machine rice & vegetables are proof that you don’t have to sacrifice flavor for health. Brands such as Kitchens of India, Seeds of Change and Tasty Bite offer delicious and healthy meal options
Soup is a category with a ton of options. The healthy Choice canned soup comes in many flavors. Dr. McDougall’s offers vegan options and several brands have hot and sour, miso soup and more to choose from. Take a look at the nutrition information to find those lowest in sodium and fat.
Need Help Choosing Healthy Vending Products?
People are stretched thin these days and are looking for options on the go, that don’t sacrifice quality or nutrition. If you’re not sure what the best healthy vending products are for your business, contact the specialists at Naturals2Go. We’ll be happy to give you options and advice on healthy vending machine franchises.