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Offering Popular Snacks Without Maxing Out Labor: What to Know

Get Ahead in the Snack Game with Popcorn Vending Machines

Consumers love snacks--and snacks are a lucrative category for foodservice operators, especially if served fresh. But with the current state of labor and budgeting, operators need solutions that allow them to offer the fresh snacks customers want without the added labor that those snacks require for prep.

Fresh-popped popcorn is a boon for operators when it comes to fresh snacks. It doesn't require much labor. Gold Medal's Ready Series popcorn vending machines are self-serve with just the push of a button, which keeps throughput high while minimizing labor and eliminating high-touch surfaces. When considering what types of snacks to offer, there are big benefits with popcorn.

Convenience and Labor Savings

An ongoing labor crunch has affected operators in all segments from retail to casual dining to noncommercial foodservice. Hiring and retaining staff has been a challenge for over a year for many facilities, and finding solutions that allow for quality experiences and great food without sacrificing variety or service is key. By offering popcorn vending machines, operators give their customers a fun experience without needing to hire new staff or spend hours training workers on new equipment. Gold Medal's popcorn vending machines are available with a variety of features, including high-volume popcorn capacity, small footpring, and cashless payment systems, making them convenient--and profitable--for operators. Workers simply prepare a batch of popcorn, then customers can serve themselves--it's as easy as can be.

Sanitation and Safety

Another benefit of popcorn vending machines in foodservice is that, because customers don't have to touch things like scoops or popcorn cabinet handles to get the popcorn--they just touch a button to dispense a portion--it's a sanitary snack choice. In a time when consumers are understandably more aware of germs and cleanliness, being able to offer a fun and delicious snack is made all the better when customers know it's also sanitary. What's more, because there is no significant high-touch areas on a popcorn vending machine, there's no need for staff to wipe down multiple areas of the machine every hour or half hour; the machine stays cleaner longer, further minimizing labor needs.

Unique Customer Experience and Profitablility

Best of all, popcorn vending machines offer a fun and unique customer experience. According to Technomic's 2022 Snacking Consumer Trend Report, 20% of consumers say they are snacking more frequently now than they were two years ago, and 49% say their snack purchases are spur-of-the-moment purchases. In short, operators can appeal to impulse snackers with the aroma of fresh popcorn and the novelty of popcorn vending machines. Self-serve functionality lets the consumer participate in the fun, too, encouraging trial. Additionally, popcorn meets a number of factors consumers look for when choosing a snack: great taste/flavor, portability, speed of preparation, made with just a few simple ingredients, and made from scratch. With so many benefits from offering popcorn to be had, the profit potential is huge--according to Gold Medal, profit margins from popcorn can be as high as 70%!

Popcorn vending machines from Gold Medal are available in several sizes, perfect for a range of different facilities, from small cafeterias to high-volume operations and everything in between. To learn more about Gold Medal's Ready Series popcorn vending machines, click here.

This post originally appeared in Food Service Director magazine.