Following the success of the ‘BananaBar’ vending machine, a vending machine that offers a range of ‘Peak Season Fruits’ has opened at the Royal Brisbane & Women’s Hospital (RBWH) at Herston in Queensland.
The vending machine contains a fruit at the peak of its season, along with roasted nuts. In its first week, the FruitBarTM offered Red Crimson Seedless Grapes, Imperial Mandarins, Australian Green KiwiFruit, low acid – sweet Snacking Tomatoes, Pears, Jazz Apples, Granny Smith Green Apples, Pink Lady Apples, Local (Wamuran) Strawberries, Ready to Eat Avocados, Range of Australian lightly roasted nuts and Queensland’s SmartBananas.
Rebecca Scurr, from Pinata Marketing, which supplies the strawberries for the FruitBar vending machine, said the machine was a great new channel for fresh produce.
“It’s a whole new concept in produce marketing that presents our strawberries where it hasn’t previously been possible,” Ms Scurr said.
Encourages ‘healthier snacking’
The ‘FruitBar’, which is in the hospital’s Atrium level food court, was launched at the RBWH on 25 June 2014 by Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young.
Dr Young said the concept was a great idea that encouraged people to eat and snack healthier.
“We’re currently on a mission, through the Healthier. Happier. campaign to encourage Queenslanders to adopt healthier behaviours to achieve better health and wellbeing,” Dr Young said. “Part of this includes getting people to eat more fruit and vegetables, which is one of the easiest ways to be healthier,” she said.
“Concepts such as the Fruitbar will make it easier for people to lead healthier lives,” Dr Young said.
Dr Young said eating more fruit and vegetables was one of the easiest ways to be healthier.
“Fruit and veggies are high in fibre and loaded with vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Introducing more into your meals or as a snack is an easy way to lead a healthier lifestyle.”
The Fruitbar has been developed by Mackays Produce Solutions, farming families and other groups within the agriculture industry who have wanted to offer the community fresh fruit in convenient way.
Dr Young said it was great to see the vending machines in some of Brisbane’s hospitals.
“I hope to see more of these types of services offered at venues and locations around Queensland,” Dr Young said. “We have wonderful fresh produce in this State and if this encourages people to eat more of it, then that’s a great thing,” she said.
Dr Young said many people lead busy lifestyles and tended to choose convenient food options, which were often unhealthy.
“People do tend to snack on-the-run. It’s good to see a healthy alternative to the sugar-filled junk food that is offered in other vending machines,” Dr Young said. “I love the idea of fresh and quality produce being available as a convenient, fast-food option,” she said.
Australian Food News reported in October 2013 that the ‘Banana Bar’ banana vending machine designed by Queensland banana grower MacKays Bananas had expanded its network after a successful launch in July 2013.
Development of the FruitBar
Fresh Partners, which consulted with Mackays Produce Solution to develop both the FruitBar and BananaBar, told Australian Food News that after the launch of the BananaBar consumers kept asking why they could not get any other fruit but bananas from the vending machine. As a result, Fresh Partners and Mackays Produce Solution began talks six months ago about the possibility of launching a fruit machine.
“Fruit is currently in small volumes, so it is collated in Brisbane for further assessment and packing to appropriate serving sizes by MacKays, who manage the process of restocking the machines,” Mike Evans from Fresh Partners told Australian Food News.
The vending machine is visited and checked daily. Mr Evans said the vending machine is temperature controlled and contains ethylene scrubbers, which remove the ripening gas that many fruits naturally give off. Any stock that is removed as part of the daily checks is usually still “in perfect condition”, according to Mr Evans, and is often given to charities.
Plans for expansion
Mr Evans said there were plans to expand the network of FruitBar vending machines across Brisbane, with another two machines planned within the next month. He said the expansion would continue into other capital cities if locations could be found that were financially viable and management of the machine could be arranged.