Selecting the best

Vending can bring a number of benefits to schools, including keeping pupils on site and providing a source of income, says Jonathan Hilder, the Automatic Vending Association

For vending within education – with the exception of primary schools where no vending is allowed to take place – it is a service that offers great control, and to fall in line with government advice and guidelines, vending within secondary schools allows only school compliant products to be presented and made available to pupils. This means that not only can you control where students are spending their money, but on the right sort of items – items such as fruit juices low fat snacks and fresh sealed fruit.

Whilst vending allows operators the flexibility to vary their vended offerings in accordance with what their customers want, where education vending is concerned, vending services can be stocked to provide students with the products that they should be consuming – the healthy options that meet school meal guidelines as per the government’s recommendations – so operators can control what students’ should/shouldn’t be eating and drinking.

School benefits
The new academy based schools are again opening up the market for vending as they are not constricted by the government regulations and a large number are opting to place full line vending and its associated income back into the schools. This has a number of benefits to these schools:
• it keeps the pupils on site
• it allows the staff to see what pupils are eating
• it provides opportunities for education projects on business models
• it provides a good income to the school.

These benefits are recognised within 6th form colleges, colleges and universities that are able to look at fair trade products and healthy options to provides a complete range to their students that also provides a good income stream. It also allows out of hours refreshment so also relieves the need for staffing in these areas.

The AVA has a great number of members who can offer services into the education market and I would like to provide two examples of companies who can meet the education markets needs.

Quality drinks
Aimia Foods, help education premises provide students with high quality, school compliant drinks which meet nutritional guidelines to suit the education sector. The company constantly develops its range to meet the requirements of its customers and a choice of new products is available in time for the autumn term.

For cold drink vending Aimia offers Del Monte, the leading pure juice brand. These school compliant fruit juices are available in a choice of two flavours, orange and apple, in 330ml cans. Aimia has also recently introduced a range of three new school compliant sparking juice drinks – Zing. Available in a 250ml can, in a choice of flavours – apple, berry and tropical – Zing is the ideal product for glass front can vendors. The slightly sparking 70 per cent juice drinks provide one of your five a day.

For hot drink vending, Aimia offers school compliant hot drinks that are not only coffee shop standard, but healthier than other vending drinks available on the market. Pour Moi, Aimia’s premium coffee shop concept, is operated via a network of regional vending companies and delivers premium coffee shop standard drinks which are ideal for the high street savvy teenage student. Inspired by the high street coffee shop, Pour Moi delivers skinny lattes, cappuccinos and americanos in large 12oz paper vending cups – a gourmet beverage service that customers will love.

Made with 100 per cent skimmed milk, the drinks not only taste great, but are natural, additive free, virtually fat free and contain no hydrogenated vegetable oils and transfatty acids, which are known to be worse than saturated fats. Hot chocolate is very popular with children of high school and further education age, and Aimia’s range of hot chocolates from Milfresh – which is of course school compliant – has Fairtrade options available, so schools can do their bit for growers and communities in the developing world.

Flexible solution
As well as control, vending offers flexibility too. Stock can easily be changed – not just in response to what people want to enjoy, but in line with seasonality and the time of year too. Additionally, vended offerings can be extended with a choice of machines. When a snack vending machine is placed alongside a beverage vending machine, very often, both products are sold – great for boosting profit.

With the greater flexibility associated within high education vending in particular, having chosen the vending machines to suit your site, make sure you consider the choice of food and drink items. Remember, vended products reflect the type of snacks/drinks/foods seen in general retail, so anything is possible.

Recycling initiatives
As well as stocking the right sorts of products within education vending, it has become more and more important for premises to consider recycling initiatives – especially now that issues relating to climate change, carbon footprints and energy management at the forefront of protecting the environment. Schools are taking this matter more seriously than most, after all, they’re in the best position to shape the responsible citizens of tomorrow.

School catering and vending operator Options Management Ltd. – another AVA member company – recognise that vending, as a service, brings to the market a range of drinks and snacks which are packaged – and packaging has long been the focus of the green lobby because much of it still goes to landfill when it could be recycled.

For schools and colleges, the growth in the use of plastic drinks bottles, cans or cups and their associated litter problems pose a major challenge. After-use disposal of bottles is difficult because of their high volume and low weight, which makes them act as air capsules, meaning they spread around a site easily. This litter is unsightly and does not give the correct ethos of the school culture.

Options Management has created a unique recycling package to help schools address this particular problem with PET bottles and other drinks containers, with a system which guarantees that the materials are recovered and recycled. This system also helps meet other green criteria like the Eco-School and Ofsted awards, and doesn’t incur significant additional costs or increase the time and labour taken to manage the process.

Implemented by high schools in Cheshire West and Chester, the system recovers the containers Options Management put into the market by offering a drinks vending machine with a recycling machine. It also supports over the counter sales, allows either caterers and schools to justifiably claim that the containers they sell can be recovered for recycling after-use, and also carries numerous other benefits; such as improved janitor utilisation (so less time’s spent on litter control/cleaning), reduction in skip use as materials are removed separately for recycling and/or are stored in a compacted form, and reduction of carbon emissions within the recovery chain.

Co-locating these machines and utilising the incentive programmes and promotional opportunities has led to increased sales and the whole system becoming self-financing and cost-neutral. It’s also changed bad habits, reduced litter and increased recycling.

Pupil rewards
Seven high schools in the Cheshire West and Cheshire area have boosted their recycling efforts with Options Management’s state-of-the-art plastic bottle recycling machines and are now on course to recover between 96,000 and 200,000 bottles, thanks to the new machine, which diverts bottles from landfill instead seeing them become recycled into other bottles and products.

Pupils are rewarded for their efforts to recycle when the machines issue random tokens that can be exchanged for a free drink, either from a vending machine or from over the counter. The scheme incentivises recycling and helps change behaviour, whilst bringing an element of fun to the whole process of recycling.

The scheme introduced in Cheshire is the beginning of a new recovery infrastructure that could see up to 32,000 tonnes of used plastic bottles recovered annually from maintained secondary schools alone, over half the total capacity of any major bottle recycling plant in the country. As more and more schools recognise the benefits of working with suppliers like Options Management, who demonstrate real producer responsibility and offer sustainable end-to-end solutions, the overall contribution to the environment – locally, regionally and nationally – could be significant.

Working with AVA members
By choosing to work with an AVA member you can be reassured that you’re dealing with a quality approved company that has the right procedures and policies in place to ensure that you get the best possible service – look for companies with the AVA logo and you can be sure that you’re working with the very best in the vending industry.

So no matter what vended offering you choose to provide, by using an AVA member you can leave the entire operation in their capable hands. Machines are stocked, cleaned and managed, stock’s controlled and re-ordered when required, and no stock needs to be stored on-site. This saves you time, energy and resources.

The AVA is happy to pass on the details of member companies that best suit your site’s requirements.

As the trade association for the £1.85bn refreshment vending industry, the Automatic Vending Association (AVA) has over 200 members from all areas of the vending industry – manufacturers and distributors of machines, and components, commodity suppliers and operators.

The AVA is a forward thinking, not-for-profit trade body for the refreshment vending industry, and by choosing to source your site’s vending requirements through the Association you can rest assured that you’ll be in receipt of the very best possible service from members in your area who can provide exemplary service for your establishment.

For more information

For further information about the Automatic Vending Association, please call 020 8661 1112 or visit
You can also follow the Association on Twitter – @vendingava; and join us on LinkedIn – The Automatic Vending Group.