Venditalia 2015 – a showcase of the future for vending machines?

By Janaina Topley Lira, May 06, 2015, 15:49 4 minute reading

When it comes to the vending machine sector, the market for CO2 machines is still in its infancy, with only a handful of manufacturers offering R744 versions, including SandenVendo, Sielaff and Crane Merchandising. With R404A and R134a banned by the new EU F-Gas Regulation in vending machines in 2020 and 2022 respectively, exhibitors at VendItalia, held from 3-6 May in Milan, Italy, whilst in no rush to switch to natural refrigerants, planned to invest in CO2.

Organised alongside the TuttoFood trade fair, VendItalia 2015, one of the largest international vending exhibitions, offered journalists a unique opportunity to find out what direction the sector is taking. Whilst the market share of natural refrigerants remains small, many exhibitors reported that they are investigating alternatives to R134 and R404A or planned to introduce CO2 units - hydrocarbons are not seen as a realistic option for spiral vending machines according to most exhibitors. Since RAC equipment placed on the market containing f-gases will need to be labelled as from the 1st January 2017, this could be the turning point for natural refrigerants in the vending machines sector.
SandenVendo leads the way with CO2 vending machines
SandenVendo, which has been supplying R744 cooling units since the 2004 Olympic games, had a number of models on show, all available in CO2 versions. The company’s newest innovation is the G-Snack / G-Drink a modular system that overcomes the problem of single block units being too large to fit through standard doors. The two-part unit has a mechanical part that can be separated from the control unit, which reduces the main cabinet by 20cm.
Although CO2 vending machines remain a niche market for SandenVendo, thanks to Coke’s promotion of CO2, this is expected to change in the near future. 
Germany is one of our biggest growth markets for CO2 vending machines, where we are receiving requests for environmentally friendly solutions,” said Yoshito Takeuchi. “Those operators that want to distinguish themselves or stay ahead of the regulations are also making enquiries about CO2.”
The CO2 machines are currently more expensive, but they allow SandenVendo to differentiate themselves in the market. 
A vending machine is a five-year, sometimes up to a ten-year investment. Operators have to get used to new technology, but for CO2 vending machines to take off will depend on how much we can reduce the cost,” explained Takeuchi.
According to Takeuchi CO2 vending machines are suitable for all world climates, with installations even in the Middle East.
Others investigating alternative refrigerants
Although not displaying the CO2 prototype first on show at VendItalia 2014, Marco Baron from vending machine manufacturer FAS, a company in operation since 1967, said they are ready for the transition to natural refrigerants. Baron said that due to the lower production volumes compared to white goods, the adoption of natural refrigerants such as CO2 would not be as swift as in other sectors. “We are not in the position to dictate the market but change will come before 2020,” said Baron.
The vending sector has always been very proactive. When R12 was going to be banned we had already made the switch to R22. When R22 was to be banned we made the switch to R134a, but the problem now is that there is no simple substitution. We do not believe that R1234yf or R1234ze are substitutes. The only real alternative is CO2.”
However, the lack of components such as CO2 compressors is currently a barrier to market development. For now Sanden is one of the only manufactures of small enough CO2 compressors suitable for vending machines.
Other exhibitors such as N&W, Iarp (an Epta brand) and Bianchi Vending did not yet have plans to launch CO2 models, although Nicola Belotti, Necta H&C Product Manager at N&W said that the company would soon begin looking at alternatives in order to comply with the F-Gas Regulation. 
Apart from SandenVendo, the only other manufacturers of CO2 vending machines mentioned at VendItalia are Crane Merchandising in the US and Sielaff in Germany.
EVA Expand project at VendItalia highlights need to transition to naturals
The European Vending Association (EVA) exhibited their project to develop a new low capacity expansion valve, which it is hoped will replace the capillary and enable the vending sector to transition to CO2 by providing a new cost effective and energy efficient component. The booth aimed to bring visibility of the initiative to the industry, explaining to participants the practical benefits that the device could bring to their vending companies.
Italy is strongest European market for vending machines
In Europe markets such as Italy, the UK, Germany, France and Spain are the largest and the most important in volume for vending machines. Italy alone has over 20 vending machines manufacturers, and companies like FAS reported that one in four of their machines is sold in Italy.
Calorie labelling in the U.S.
Outside the EU, another trend impacting the vending machine sector is the requirement in the U.S. to display calorie information on the machines, a consequence of the healthcare overhaul commonly known as ‘Obamacare’.
As such there were several exhibitors showcasing innovative touch screen technology able to display the nutritional value of the snacks and drinks on sale. SandenVendo’s G-Snack Touch was on such example.




By Janaina Topley Lira

May 06, 2015, 15:49

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