Saturday, April 25, 2015
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Vending machines go gourmet for upscale customers

By
From page B6 | July 11, 2014 |

LOS ANGELES — At Hollywood and Highland Center, mere steps from Hollywood Boulevard’s souvenir-hawking dives, tourists can drop up to $1,000 on fine caviar.

But they aren’t pampered with white-glove service. Tins of the delicacy are dispensed at the tap of a button – from a vending machine.

After decades of dispensing junk food, vending machines are putting on airs.

High-tech versions are popping up at gas stations and shopping malls, peddling edibles more commonly found at restaurants or specialty stores. Some offer Wi-Fi and touch screens that entertain shoppers while they wait. Many accept credit or debit cards, and a few even sell very expensive items such as jewelry.

“There is a lot of innovation happening in vending machines,” said Omar Khedr, industry research analyst at IBISWorld. “It’s occurring in niche markets like organic foods, propelled forward by access to new technology and convenience.”

Sprinkles Cupcakes is installing its “Cupcake ATM” at all 16 bakeries around the country. L’Oreal tested a vending machine in New York during the holidays that scanned a shopper’s outfit and recommended complementary makeup. San Francisco start-up Momentum Machines is making a device that cooks up customized burgers with no help from human hands.

Such vending extravagance is driven by consumers with increasingly picky tastes who still want convenience on the go. The boom in mobile and Web-based shopping also has trained customers to browse and buy with no help from salespeople or waiters.

“It’s a case of technological innovation at an affordable price,” said Christopher Salyers, author of “Vending Machines: Coined Consumerism.” “The Internet has only proliferated this worldview of pay-and-click consumers.”

Long before McDonald’s, coin-operated vending machines served pies and sandwiches to armies of harried workers. But the U.S. has since fallen behind Europe and Asia, where futuristic machines offer a vast array of goods including gold bars, eggs and live beetles. In Japan, automated kiosks sell heads of lettuce after growing them under artificial lighting.

Innovations are now driving a renaissance in U.S. self-serve kiosks.

After five straight years of decline, revenue for the U.S. vending machine industry is projected to rise and hit $7.7 billion in 2019, up nearly 7 percent from this year, according to an IBISWorld report. Experts say 2014 marks the comeback of the sector after years squeezed by budget-conscious shoppers who opted for value over vending convenience.

Denis Koci said he spent five years developing the technology for the Burritobox, which offers warm burritos on demand. His Los Angeles company, the Box Brands, rolled out six machines this year in Southern California and in August will start franchising nationally in places such as colleges, Koci said.

Diners can pick between options such as hand-rolled vegan fajita burritos for $3.65 and add sides such as guacamole and sour cream. Soon the boxes will toast the burritos and also offer warmed chips with salsa. The products are heated inside to 195 degrees before popping out.

Koci said he was inspired by the “Star Trek” television series, on which a machine called the replicator made meals on demand.

Within six months, the company plans to roll out Pizzaboxes that bake pies to 800 degrees.

“The goal is to do what they do in fast food restaurants inside a machine,” Koci said.

But to succeed, companies will have to overcome doubts about the quality of vending machine fare, analysts said.

Food companies are seeing opportunities to get inside schools that are getting rid of chip-and-soda machines and replacing them with more-healthful options.

Jamba Juice has installed JambaGo machines in hundreds of schools. Last year, the Emeryville company put about 1,400 machines in places like Target and has an additional 1,000 planned this year.

“There is a huge opportunity to offer healthier alternatives to kids,” said James White, Jamba Juice’s chief executive. “It’s about making the brand more accessible.”

Some see machines as a way to turn their stores into 24-hour operations.

Sprinkles Cupcakes in Beverly Hills plans to install its Cupcake ATM at all of its bakeries within a year, up from the six currently in operation, said Nicole Schwartz, vice president of marketing.

Each ATM holds up to 760 cupcakes; some machines can sell four at a time from a range of flavors, including one for dogs.

One kiosk sells an average of 1,000 cupcakes a day – up to 50 percent of total daily sales at each bakery.

Kelly Stern, founder of Beverly Hills Caviar, sees the self-serve machines as a way to avoid the headache and expense of human labor. She found managing a retail store a nightmare. Workers were unreliable without constant oversight, she said.

After closing her Beverly Hills store in 2010, Stern began looking into vending machines. Her company typically sells to grocery stores and restaurants but wanted direct access to customers, too.

Stern installed her first “automated boutique” during the holidays in 2012. Now the machines are in three shopping centers, including Westfield Century City and Westfield Topanga.

The machines now pull in 10 percent of the company’s total sales. The boutiques send emails when supplies are low and can also be remotely operated via smartphone to help shoppers who run into problems.

“If we can minimize the humans in our company, then we prefer that,” Stern said. “When you have physical employees, you don’t have a life. Ask any restaurant or supermarket business.”

Los Angeles Times

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Transportation leaders point to need for funding changes

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A1, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
Together to remember children lost to violence

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
‘Cinderella’ carries on despite theater flood

By Bill Hicks | From Page: A3 | Gallery

 
3 letters to Vacaville may cost $100,000 to answer

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A3

 
Church offers free Southern Gospel concert

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A3

Summer Spare the Air season set to start

By Kevin W. Green | From Page: A3

 
Suisun City police log: April 23, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

Fairfield police log: April 23, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A9

 
Commercial weight loss programs come under scrutiny

By Scott Anderson | From Page: B10

Food often a conduit to something more

By Murray Bass | From Page: B10

 
.

US / World

San Francisco Catholics deeply divided over archbishop

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Colleges starting to offer brewing courses

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

Hate crime charges for homeless beating suspect

By The Associated Press | From Page: A3, 1 Comment

 
Supreme Court ruling keeps sex offender registration in place

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

SFPD to pay for settlement of wrongful termination suit

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
16 students injured when school stage collapses

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Thousands march to mark anniversary of Armenian massacres

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Man ordered to stand trial for kidnap, rape charges

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Nuclear launch officers charged in drug case

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Rubio looking to gain support in Iowa

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Hep C, HIV cases spike throughout Indiana

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6, 1 Comment

 
Obama uses hospital funds to help push for Medicaid expansion

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

Hawaii raises smoking age to 21

By The Associated Press | From Page: A6

 
Police: Gray should have received medical treatment

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

US completing review of hostage policy following drone strikes

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Italy police arrest nine terror suspects in sweep

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Yemen rebels ordered to pull back

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
.

Opinion

 
Chaos in the primaries

By Thomas Sowell | From Page: A8, 3 Comments

Joy of baseball back in my life

By Deon Price | From Page: A8, 1 Comment

 
.

Living

Today in History: April 25, 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
Community Calendar: April 25, 2015

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

Horoscopes: April 25, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
Daughters’ ex is determined to turn their children against her

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

.

Entertainment

Seriously silly, Monty Python reunites for a weekend tribute

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7 | Gallery

 
TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

.

Sports

SCC baseball team wins to claim share of BVC title

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1, 2 Comments

 
Ynoa, Butler send Rockies to 6-4 win over Giants

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Vikings fall to Jaguars 4-3 in 8 innings

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B1

 
After working OT in NBA playoffs, Curry, Rose can earn rest

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Swafford, Weekley atop Zurich Classic leaderboard

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Logano wins pole at Richmond, his third of the season

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Usain Bolt: Gay’s reduced doping ban sends wrong message

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Scott Dixon is chasing IndyCar wins leaders, not spotlight

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Ducking the spotlight, some stars decide to skip NFL draft

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Garber: MLS plan in 6 months to expand beyond 24 teams

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Dortmund, American Pharoah vie for favorite in 141st Derby

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Harden, Howard lead Rockets to 130-128 win, 3-0 lead on Mavs

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Olympic sailing events may be moved from Rio’s polluted bay

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Canadian Henderson shoots tournament record for LPGA lead

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Bowyer and Stewart looking for good runs at Richmond

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Oregon wins distance medley relay at Penn Relays

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Goodell: LA projects viable for bringing back team

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Former Buckeyes teammates Cook, Sindelar top Legends of Golf

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Signups for Saturday, April 25, 2015

By Paul Farmer | From Page: B3

.

Business

Winners and losers of the demise of the big Comcast deal

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
What could McDonald’s do to fix its business?

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

Durable goods orders up, but business investment falls again

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Harley recalls nearly 46,000 motorcycles

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Comcast abandons Time Warner Cable bid after gov’t pushback

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6 | Gallery

 
Cheaper fuel has airlines soaring to record profits

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

Wynn Resorts shareholders: Elaine Wynn won’t return to board

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

 
Ford recalls 390,000 cars to fix door latches

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Obituaries

Kirk Noonan

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Sandra King

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Elizabeth Cepeda

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4, 1 Comment

 
.

Comics

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
B.C.

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
.

Home Seller 4/25/2015

Ask a Designer: decorating with spring pastels

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR1 | Gallery

Average US rate on 30-year mortgage slips to 3.65 percent

By The Associated Press | From Page: HSR3

Real estate transactions for April 25, 2015

By Daily Republic | From Page: HSR3