Ever want to grab a flavoursome and nutritious meal on the go instead of lining up for that junk food-laden vending machine? You're not alone. A new study has revealed that more health-conscious Australians are voicing an appetite for healthier options when on the go.
The study, published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health, surveyed the opinions of over 120 students from universities and 120 public hospital employees, patients and visitors across regional Australia.
According to the lead researcher, Sydney University nutritionist and dietitian Professor Vicki Flood, the survey showed that people do want a change in the offerings.
"We really wanted to follow up and find if people wanted to see change in vending machines, and clearly people do want to see a change in vending machines and that's a positive outcome and we would like to advocate for changes to occur," she said.
The study showed that 87 per cent of the 240 people surveyed thought vending machines offered fast food snacks that were "too unhealthy", with 80 per cent willing to pay the same amount or more for healthier alternatives.
"I think in general the public are becoming aware of the need to be eating healthier foods as a society with over 60 per cent being overweight or obese. Vending machines just have poor options there, so people are seeking healthier foods," Professor Flood said.
Companies such as The Fix Cold Pressed Juice in Canberra and Melbourne's The Füd Revolution have already ventured into the healthy vending machine market.
The Füd Revolution co-founder Laura Anderson says she and partner Bruce Dane wanted to provide a more convenient takeaway alternative with genuine health benefits. Anderson and Dane opened two salad and muesli dispensaries in Melbourne in July – one at Doncaster Westfield Shopping Centre and another at Melbourne Central Shopping Centre.
"It's two parallel streams – we wanted to cater to people who know what they're eating and with special requirements, but also make it fun and appealing to a more so mainstream population to help encourage that change."
While the study focused on universities and hospitals, Anderson has found office workers are also yearning for more variety.
"We've been overwhelmed by the positive response from across the board, but in particular it was really the office workers who made up 80 per cent of customers, and return customers are the people who work in the centre, not just people who sit in the shopping centre," Anderson says.
Going forward, Professor Flood would like to see healthy vending machines operating in a range of public spaces.
"We would like to see them occurring in universities, schools, train stations, gyms, shopping centres and public hospitals," Professor Flood says.