NORTH FOND DU LAC, Wis. - Americans have embraced snacking, with recent data finding that more employees are enjoying vending machine products for that purpose, the Post-Crescent reports. Snacking has become more like a fourth meal for Americans, who average around 580 calories each day in snacks, according to the Institute of Food Technologists.
The snack food industry has taken notice, with more offering low-calorie or healthier options of traditional snacks. "As recently as two years ago, there just weren€™t as many healthier options in the grocery store, but that€™s all changed," said Mark Budde, general manager of A to Z Vending in Fond du Lac. "There are plenty of varieties now and they are much easier to find. If there wasn€™t a market for it, you wouldn€™t be seeing them."
For example, FritoLay now has baked versions of its popular Cheetos, Doritos, Lays and Ruffles brands. Budde has seen more customers request a healthier mix to his vending machines, such as Pierce Manufacturing Co.
"There€™s a couple of reasons why we decided to do it," said Jodie Larsen, vice president of human resources, referring to asking for more healthy products. "We€™ve preached safety for years, so when employees come to work, they practice safety so when they put in their time, they go home in the same condition they came in."
John Anderson, new business sales manager for Aramark Refreshment Services, has also seen an uptick in alternative snack requests. "What I€™m seeing is that employees are becoming more aware of their options and want to stick with diets (and) better eating habits at work too," he said.
"The response to (healthy vending) has been very positive so far," said Budde. "For us, it can be a big educational tool to get more people interested."
Some vending machines are stocking items beyond food, such as fishing bait, while others are no longer accepting cash.