Vending Shopping Habits in Montgomery

Shifting Vending Machine Shopping Habits in Montgomery

Vending Shopping Habits in Montgomery

What was the last pre-COVID item you purchased from a vending machine? Would your choice change if you were to purchase something today? If it would, you aren’t alone. A recent survey performed by Shorr Packaging revealed insights about how U.S. consumers’ purchasing behavior has shifted since the onset of the pandemic.

In addition to traditional food shopping locations, Montgomery employers should also be aware of these shifts as they can also impact how and what employees purchase from break rooms. Even though employers don’t have control over how companies package or label their products, they do have control over which products are offered in break room vending machines. Regularly analyzing purchasing patterns and comparing them to the current break room refreshment menu provides exact data that can be used to create an inviting and engaging break room and keep employees on-site when they need something to eat or drink.

Let’s look at two areas of the survey that are relevant to the break room — COVID related changes and food labels and packaging.

COVID-19 Related Changes

For good or for bad, the pandemic has changed the way Montgomery consumers shop. During the three months prior to the survey being completed, 61 percent of participants agreed that pandemic-related purchasing shifts will change how they shop in the future with 66 percent of those individuals saying they would pay more attention to product labels and packaging. 

Survey participants aren’t only paying more attention to packaging and labels; they are changing the products that they buy. For example, over three quarters of those who purchased brands they were unfamiliar with said they would purchase that brand/item again.

Vending Shopping Habits in Montgomery

Food Labels and Packaging

So, what do consumers look for when choosing a product? Of the different parts on packaging, the ingredient list is considered the most trustworthy followed by the brand or logo, the price, and popular phrases such as fresh, no sugar added, all-natural, whole grain/multigrain, organic, and good source of fiber.

While almost two-thirds of participants were willing to pay more for a snack or beverage with popular labeling phrases, the remaining one-third consciously chose not to purchase items with the same phrases. The key takeaway is to make sure that any vending machine refreshment menu includes options that appeal to everyone.

Automatic Food Service offers Montgomery businesses the opportunity to do just that. We offer a variety of traditional and healthy snacks, cold beverages, and fresh food choices and can customize a vending refreshment menu to fit both your and your employees’ needs. For more information about all our break room services including office coffee service, please give us a call at (334) 264.7336.

Celebrate Coffee in Auburn

Celebrate Coffee in Auburn

Celebrate Coffee in Auburn

For coffee drinkers in Auburn and around the world, the end of September and the beginning of October is the perfect time to celebrate their favorite hot beverage as National and International Coffee Days happen within two days of one another. In celebration of this delicious holiday, let’s look several reasons why the beverage is so loved.

A Short History

The exact origin of coffee is unknown, but one of the more well-known legends includes a goat herder, his goats, and an abbot from a local Ethiopian monastery. After seeing his goats experience a boost in energy after consuming the berries from a local plant, the herder told a local abbot, who made a beverage from the same berries. From there, the beverage we now know as coffee traveled to the Arabian Peninsula, Europe, and finally the Americas.

Health Benefits

Whether it’s the caffeine or the antioxidants and other compounds in the beans, everyone’s favorite caffeinated beverage offers health benefits for Auburn individuals including:

  • Reduced risk of death: Drinking one cup per day was associated with a 16 percent lower risk of death. Bump the numbers up to two to three cups per day, and those participants had a 19 percent lower chance of mortality.
  • Reduced risk for type-2 diabetes and heart disease: Four cups of coffee. According to researchers in Duesseldorf, Germany that’s all the caffeine it takes to trigger a protective effect in the human heart. The domino effect caused by caffeine consumption ends with the protection and repair of the heart muscle.
  • Reduced risk for different types of cancer: The International Agency for Research on Cancer determined that coffee can no longer be classified as a carcinogen. In fact, researchers determined that coffee intake was associated with a reduced risk of oral, pharynx, liver, colon, prostate, melanoma, and endometrial cancers. Woo-hoo!
  • Improved memory, a short-term mental boost and better group performance: Caffeine has been found to provide a mental boost for 45 minutes after consuming it and to improve memory over the next 24 hours. Research by the Graduate School of Management at UC, Davis also found that caffeine has a positive impact on a group’s performance.
  • Coffee, in its many forms, also makes everyone feel happier: A 2018 study found that 47 percent of survey participants said that consuming that morning cup of Joe played an integral part in having a good start to the day, 43 percent would choose an iced coffee for a “pick-me-up” during the day, and 38 percent of participants would be more willing to spend a day without their smartphone than not drink any form of coffee for 24 hours.
Celebrate Coffee in Auburn

2020 Trends to Explore

  • Coffee-cola beverages: mix coffee with cola
  • Nitro cold brew: cold brew infused with nitrogen
  • Coffee Spritzer: combine a splash of seltzer water with cold brew
  • Quality decaf: enjoy deliciously roasted beans without the caffeine
  • Snapchilled: brew your favorite beans using a traditional method and rapidly chill it to extract additional flavors

Help your Auburn employees celebrate this delicious and caffeinated holiday by providing OCS in the break room. In additional to a variety of hot beverages including tea, make sure to include a selection of sweeteners and dairy and non-dairy creamers. For more information about OCS or any of our other break room services, please contact Automatic Food Service at (334) 264.7336.

Adapting Vending Machines in Montgomery

Vending Machines in Montgomery Keep Adapting

Adapting Vending Machines in Montgomery

2020 has brought about many unforeseen changes, especially in Montgomery break rooms. Whether a break room offered vending machines or a micro-market, refreshment providers have had to adapt. This isn’t, however, the first time that break room equipment has been modified to meet a new need. Since the very first vending machine was developed, individuals have continued to use them to solve a variety of different problems.

Vending Machine History

The concept of a vending machine has been around for a lot longer than most Montgomery residents realize. In fact, the first vending machine was said to have been written about by the mathematician Hero in 215 BC in Ancient Egypt. In this machine, the user placed a coin in the machine and received holy water; a job previously performed by an individual. Here are several important changes that have helped make the vending machine what it is today include:

1888: Tutti-Frutti gum vending machines were installed in a New York City subway station.
1946: The first coffee vending machine was invented.
1950: Refrigerated sandwich vending machines expanded the lunch menu.
1950s – 1970s: located in U.S. airports, vending machines sold life insurance policies covering death, should the buyer’s flight crash.
1961: Canned soft drink vending machines offered customers new beverage options.
1972: Glass-front snack machines were introduced.
1985: Credit/debit card payment devices were introduced.
1987: Frozen food vending machines were introduced.
1991: Flavored coffees, espresso, and cappuccino were introduced in coffee machines.

Today

In the 150+ years since the first fully automatic vending machine was invented, a wide range of products, from practical to crazy, have been sold. In 2020, non-edible options including personal protection equipment (PPE) can be found. The following organizations highlight how vending machines can be converted to help combat the spread of COVID-19.

New Jersey Transit (NJT) has installed vending machines in handful of stations that sell PPE such as face masks, hand sanitizer, sanitized wipes, and disposable gloves to the public. Kevin Corbett, CEO & President of NJ Transit, explained, “We want our customers to trust that we have prepared the safest and cleanest transit system possible for their return and will continue to work hard every day to keep it that way.” 

Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) has developed a similar program. Located throughout the campus, vending machines offer masks, hand sanitizer and other protective products at no cost to the students or university employees. The university tracks “purchases” via the school’s id card system, ensuring that everyone can only make one purchase per product per month.

Adapting Vending Machines in Montgomery

As with the new machines at VCU and NJT, vending machines in Montgomery break rooms offer several benefits for employees. Employers can create a customized menu that includes the snacks, beverages, and fresh food their employees want. Not only are a variety of payment options available, including cash and credit/debit cards, but employers can also cover part or all the costs for their employees. In addition, break room vending machines can encourage employees to stay on-site when they need something to eat or drink, reducing person to person contact and the likelihood of coming into contact with COVID-19.

Is your Montgomery break room ready to safely offer sought-after refreshment options? We are here to help you create an inviting and welcoming space that also safely delivers everyone’s favorite snacks, cold beverages, fresh food, and coffee. For more information, please call Automatic Food Service at (334) 264.7336.

Candy on Auburn Break Room Menu

Why Candy Should Be on Your Auburn Break Room Menu

Candy on Auburn Break Room Menu

What is your favorite type of candy? Is it something made with chocolate or without? According to The Daily Meal, the answer may depend on the state you live in. M&M’s came in first with 13 states followed by Skittles (10 states), Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups (7 states), Snickers (4 states), Sour Patch Kids (4 states), Jolly Ranchers (3 states), Kit Kat (2 states), Starburst (2 states), Twix (2 states), and Hershey Bars, Milky Way, and Swedish Fish each got one state a piece. While each of the above candies tastes quite different, they all have one thing in common—they have the ability to boost one’s mood, especially during the past six months.

New data from the National Confectioners Association found that the overall sale of candy and chocolate has gone up 3.8 percent since March 2020. Chocolate sales increased by 5.5 percent and premium chocolate sales jumped by 12.5 percent during the same time period. Compared to a decrease of 1.3 percent from 2018-2019 for all chocolate and an increase of only 0.8 percent for non-chocolate candy, this year’s numbers are a big deal.

Whether an Auburn consumer’s preference for a sweet treat is candy, chocolate, or even something healthy, employers have an opportunity to offer their employees some stress relief via the break room. Providing a variety of options in the break room also encourages employees to stay on-site instead of leaving during the workday.

Snacks

Creating a customized menu with traditional snacks like candy and chocolate as well as better-for-you snack options makes sure that there is something for everyone. It’s not unusual for the same individual to choose a cookie or bag of potato chips one day and a protein bar the next. Snacks also help to provide an energy boost until the next time an employee can grab a meal.

Candy on Auburn Break Room Menu

Hot and Cold Beverages

A well-rounded beverage menu should include a selection of both cold and hot caffeinated and non-caffeinated beverages. Caffeinated options such as coffee or soft drinks can provide a quick energy boost for those who need it while bottled water and hot or iced tea help Auburn employees stay properly hydrated.

Fresh Food

Since many Auburn individuals, especially Millennials, prefer to snack on multiple mini meals throughout the day instead of eating the traditional three meals per day, access to fresh food is especially important. Without on-site options, those employees are likely to spend extra time off-site purchasing fresh food.

Automatic Food Service is here to help your organization customize the best refreshment option for your employees especially in the time of COVID-19. For more information about our traditional and healthy snack, beverage, and fresh food options, vending and micro-market services, and our office coffee service, please contact us at (334) 264.7336. We would like to help create a refreshment menu that helps decrease everyone’s stress levels.

Coffee Trends Benefit Montgomery

Adapt 2020 Coffee Trends to Benefit Montgomery

Coffee Trends Benefit Montgomery

COVID-19 may have disrupted almost all aspects of life, but it hasn’t stopped Montgomery individuals from enjoying their daily coffee. In fact, consumption has increased during the past several months. One thing that is different is that many individuals are purchasing their caffeinated beverages online or via a mobile app while trips to the local cafe have dramatically decreased.

As Montgomery employees head back to work, not considering or adapting your office coffee service (OCS) is a missed opportunity to rebuild your workplace community, boost morale, and increase productivity. Why is that you ask? The short answer is that the majority of adults in American drink coffee and all its related beverages each day, and yet only 63 percent of employees who work outside of their home have access to coffee at work.

According to the recently released 2020 National Coffee Data Trends (NCDT) Report, 62 percent of Americans 18 and older drink coffee daily, up five percent from 2015, and the average number of cups consumed by each individual is 3.1 cups—that’s almost 25 ounces per day. But the number of employers who offer OCS in the break room has decreased by five percent compared to 2019.

Coffee Trends Benefit Montgomery

To compete with off-site menus that offer a wide variety of options which can be ordered via an app or delivered directly to an employee by a food delivery service, facility managers should understand 2020 coffee trends. (One caveat—while these numbers were collected before COVID-19 changed how and where Montgomery employees work, the results can still be used to help plan for post-COVID break room services.)

  • 56 percent consume gourmet coffee or beverages that are brewed from premium beans
  • 53 percent looked for brands that are focused on sustainable farming and Fair Trade practices
  • 40 percent of individuals add milk/creamer (any type) plus a sweetener
  • 20 percent prefer their coffee black
  • Four percent use alternative milks such as soy milk, almond milk, coconut milk, oat milk etc.
  • Demand for espresso-based beverages including cappuccino, latte, frozen blended, espresso, mocha, macchiato, Americano, and flat white continues to grow

In addition to what Americans want to drink, it is also important to consider what types of beverages each generation prefers especially if your organization employs a variety of individuals. Espresso-based beverages are preferred by 27.5 percent of Americans under the age of 40, while those aged 60+ prefer traditional, non-gourmet coffee. Consumption of coffee was also found to increase as individuals aged. For example, consumption is up 40 percent since 2015 among drinkers age 18 – 24. Whether that is a change in lifestyle or just a desire for more, it’s something to be aware of.  

Now’s the time to reassess your OCS and other break room refreshment options. Automatic Food Service can help by creating a customized menu and safely providing your Montgomery employees fresh food, snacks and beverages via a micro-market or vending machines. For more information about our refreshment services, please contact us at (334) 264.7336. We look forward to helping support your organization.

Food and COVID-19 in Montgomery

Food and COVID-19 in Montgomery

Food and COVID-19 in Montgomery

COVID-19 has had an impact on everything including Montgomery individuals’ relationship with food. While many of the changes can be seen anecdotally, a recent study by the International Food Information Council (IFIC) specifically identified how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Americans’ current perceptions about food as well as food-related trends from the past decade.

Three key statistics stand out.

  • “85% of Americans have made at least some change in the food they eat or how they prepare it because of the coronavirus pandemic.”
  • “32% of Americans reported in the survey that they are snacking more.”
  • “More than half (54%) of all consumers say the healthfulness of their food choices matters more now than it did in 2010 [the last time the survey was performed].”

Safety

Understanding these changes and adapting to them is especially important for Montgomery employers as non-essential employees head back to their workplaces. Employers have an opportunity to help their employees by providing safely prepared refreshment options on-site. This is important as 27 percent of the 85 percent who have already made changes are thinking about what they are going to eat more than usual. A well-rounded and comprehensive approach to break room and food safety should play an integral part in creating a safe workplace.

Food and COVID-19 in Montgomery

Employers can also emphasize the importance of risk-reduction practices (hand washing, minimizing contact with surfaces and using wipes and hand sanitizer) at work, especially when it comes to using the break room to purchase snacks, food, and beverages from vending machines or micro-markets. Break room providers can help by openly conveying their COVID-related policies and procedures. Combining education about risk-reduction practices and break room providers’ practices will help employees feel more comfortable purchasing break room items.

Healthy

Since almost a third of participants were snacking more, employers should consider offering additional healthy options to help employees make healthier choices. Better-for-you products are even more important for those employees who have children as 33 percent of participants who are parents (compared to 16 percent without children) are more likely to “eat their feelings” and then feel less satisfied by eating.

But choosing healthier options isn’t just for those with children. With more than 50 percent of the 1,011 survey participants making dietary choices based on health-related goals, access to better-for-you products is important for all Montgomery employees. Of those 50+ percent of survey participants, 47 percent are following a specific diet to lose weight, 40 percent hope to have more energy, 39 percent are changing their physical appearance, 37 percent want to protect long-term health and prevent future health problems, and 36 percent want to prevent weight gain.

Montgomery Break Rooms

Whether it’s adding new items to your refreshment menu or updating your break room with new vending machines or a micro-market, Automatic Food Service can help. We offer a wide variety of better-for-you and traditional snacks, fresh food, cold beverages, and office coffee service that can safely meet the refreshment needs of your employees. For more information, please contact us at (334) 264.7336. We look forward to hearing from you.  

Traditional and Healthy Snacks in Auburn

Snacks and 3 Important Characteristics in Auburn

Traditional and Healthy Snacks in Auburn

Snacks have many different purposes. For some Auburn individuals, they are a meal replacement while for other individuals they are a treat or a reason to gather with colleagues or friends. Just as there are different characteristics that make people unique, there are many reasons why individuals choose to snack.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic triggered drastic changes in how Auburn employees live and work, snacks have become even more essential for many individuals. According to a recent U.S. Snack Index survey “85% of respondents said eating their favorite snack makes them feel normal.” Some of those favorites are potato chips, popcorn, and corn chips. In this time of great change, small things that create a sense of normalcy are important since they can positively impact mental health. 

But snacking on one’s favorites isn’t the only thing survey participants want. They still prefer easily accessible snacks over ones that are harder to acquire, and they want variety or the option to try new products. In fact, 86 percent of survey participants said that the most important factor in deciding about what to snack on is convenience while 83 percent said sticking with a favorite ranks at the top.

Convenience

Many Auburn employers have been presented with a new opportunity to make sure their snack and beverage menus offer what their employees want. It’s worthwhile to take the time to ask employees about their preferences. Considering your employees’ opinions sends them a message that says, “We value you.” 

Traditional and Healthy Snacks in Auburn

With only 47 percent of survey participants saying they could locate all the snacks they wanted while shopping, employers have been presented with a new opportunity to increase convenience and customize their break room benefits. Offering on-site refreshments not only ups the convenience factor but they also encourage employees to stay on-site during breaks and meals. 

Less time spent off-site increases employee productivity and hopefully decreases the risk of infection. Gathering on-site in small groups during breaks also creates essential moments that can be used to rebuild morale and the office community that has been missing with fewer employees in the office.

Something New

Even though survey participants placed a heavy focus on snacking on their favorites, they are still interested in trying new snacks. In the survey, Millennials and Gen Z represented the largest and most adventurous demographic. A few things to consider, in addition to convenience, when thinking about what Millennials and Gen Z are looking for with new choices are healthy options, high-protein, low calorie snacks, options with a low environmental footprint, and trustworthy brands.  

How successfully does your Auburn break room menu meet your employees’ refreshment needs? Whether you need to make a complete overhaul or just a few changes, Automatic Food Service is available to help. We offer a wide variety of traditional and healthy snacks and beverages as well as contactless payment options to help keep everyone safe. For more information, please call us at (334) 264.7336. We look forward to hearing from you.

Keep Employees Hydrated in Montgomery

Keep Employees Hydrated in Montgomery

Keep Employees Hydrated in Montgomery

With warmer weather on its way, Montgomery employees need to make sure they stay cool and hydrated. Being dehydrated especially when it’s warm out can have a wide range of adverse effects from having trouble concentrating at work to other more serious heat-related illnesses. 

To remind everyone to remember to stay hydrated, June 23 is National Hydration Day. Created in honor of the inventor, Victor Hawkins, who developed a hydrating mouthguard, National Hydration Day focuses on encouraging everyone to drink plenty of hydrating beverages. Staying properly hydrated means that more water is going into the body than the amount of water that is leaving. Dehydration is the opposite. 

Thinking about staying hydrated isn’t just for employees who work outside, although it is especially important for them. Those who work indoors need to plan out how they are going to consume enough water too. Working in an air-conditioned environment can cause moisture to evaporate from the skin and lungs faster than it would otherwise. Drinking enough water is important for all Montgomery individuals.

Severe dehydration is dangerous and can cause life-threatening medical conditions, but most Montgomery employees only need to contend with a much milder form. For example, workplace productivity can be negatively impacted by dehydration because of a decrease in cognitive abilities, reduction in concentration and alertness, and slower reaction times, both mentally and physically.

Keep Employees Hydrated in Montgomery

An easy way to decrease dehydration during the workday is to consume more water. If your employees are not a fan of plain water, try offering a slice of lemon or lime to add to their water, a favorite brand of flavored sparkling water or a cold glass of iced coffee or tea. Consuming water doesn’t always have to happen via a beverage. Many fruits and vegetables including watermelon, strawberries, peaches, cantaloupe, lettuce, celery, cucumber, and tomatoes boost hydration because they contain higher amounts of water. They make great healthy snacks too.

Employers can help their employees stay hydrated year-round by offering a variety of sought-after cold beverages like water, iced or herbal tea or naturally flavored sparkling water in the break room. Whether there are vending machines or a micro-market in your Montgomery break room, it’s easy to customize your beverage menu to offer the refreshing and hydrating options your employees want. For more information about refreshment options including snacks, fresh food, and healthy options as well as office coffee service, please contact Automatic Food Service at (334) 264.7336.

Safe Break Room Options in Auburn

Your Auburn Break Room Is More Important Than Ever

Safe Break Room Options in Auburn

The break room can change an Auburn employee’s workplace experience. A well-designed break room that offers popular snacks, beverages, and fresh food is a place for relaxation, spontaneous interaction between colleagues, and creativity as well as a spot to grab a bite to eat or drink. Even though the impact of COVID-19 during the past several months has substantially decreased break room visits, micro-markets and vending machines still have an important role to play as employees return to work.

It’s clear that each Auburn employer will approach reopening their place of business differently and on a timetable that fits their unique organization.

Promoting CDC recommended guidelines for “healthy hygiene practices such as hand washing and employees wearing a cloth face covering, as feasible” as well as encouraging social distancing or staying at least 6 feet away from other individuals and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily are just a few new behaviors employers will likely be recommending.

Break rooms with a micro-market or vending machines are also a tool that Auburn employers can use to encourage social distancing and fewer person-to-person interactions among employees. For example,

Safe Break Room Options in Auburn
  • Both micro-markets and vending machines offer cashless or touchless payment options including mobile payments and are great for grab-and-go situations.
  • To use a micro-market, employees will scan their snack or beverage; scan their smartphone or swipe a debit/card; and walk away.
  • To use a vending machine, employees will touch the machine once; scan their smartphone or swipe a debit/card; and walk away.
  • Both micro-markets and vending machines are open 24/7, keeping employees onsite during their workday.
  • Staying on-site instead of going off-site for a bite to eat or beverage helps employees avoid external and less controllable environments.

Employers should also consider the types of snacks, beverages, and fresh food that will be offered. Eating healthy is more important than ever. Healthier ingredients like fruits and vegetables provide the vitamins, minerals, and other nutrients that the human body needs to support the immune system. Bottled water and other healthy beverages keep everything in the body hydrated and moving more efficiently.

But it is also wise to offer traditional options that are “fun” or provide a mental boost such as chocolate and other snacks. Most Auburn employees have been under prolonged stress, and while eating healthy is important, a favorite snack or beverage can provide a bit of an emotional or mental pick-me-up. Offering a balance of traditional and healthy options will help employees find the products they need when they want them.

For more information about our safety practices or upgrading your refreshment menu or break room space to include a micro-market or vending machines, please contact Automatic Food Service at (334) 264.7336. We look forward to helping you bring your employees back to work.

Break Room Service Providers in Montgomery

Break Room Service Providers Lead the Way in Montgomery

Break Room Service Providers in Montgomery

Workstations, desks, and the break room are just a few of the physical spaces that businesses have to consider as they begin the process of reopening. In addition, Montgomery employers are developing new procedures and accommodations to ensure employee safety amidst ongoing concerns about COVID-19. Decisions made regarding the break room should be an important part of the plan.

Last week, members of the refreshment services industry gathered virtually to send a heartfelt and reassuring message to everyone. Shot in isolation from each individual’s home or business, the message is an inspiring 2-minute video. The takeaway is clear: break room service providers everywhere are here to support companies as they transition toward a new work environment.

Break Room Service Providers in Montgomery

Automatic Food Service is responding appropriately and following the state’s COVID-19 re-opening schedules and guidelines as well as adopting stricter health and safety procedures for our employees.

In addition to maintaining social distancing practices, our route drivers are washing their hands or changing into a new pair of gloves before each visit. They are also sanitizing all contact surfaces and high touch areas at the end of every service call. Their goal is to leave Montgomery break rooms cleaner than when they arrived. Additionally, we have implemented social distancing policies in our offices and distribution centers and are closely monitoring our employees’ health.

Before COVID-19, break rooms were an important resource, but today, they have become an even more valuable benefit for Montgomery employees. Micro-markets and vending machines provide a safer way for employees to access fresh foods, snacks, and beverages. Products available in micro-markets and vending machines are individually wrapped in secure packaging for a quick, grab-and-go experience. Vending machines and micro-markets also offer cashless payment options, limiting contact even further. 

Providing employees with plenty of fresh foods, snacks, and beverages in the break room not only encourages employees to stay on-site but also limits potential exposure to viruses that can occur during off-site trips. Let’s work together to keep everyone safe.

For more information about customizing a refreshment menu or our safety procedures, please contact us at (334) 264.7336.