Canadian Vending

Features Healthy Vending Trends
Chicago parks study suggests consumers like healthier vending options


August 20, 2014
By Canadian Vending

Topics

Aug. 20, 2014, Chicago – Staff and patrons at Chicago parks
reacted positively to the appearance of healthier product choices in vending
machines, indicates a study that offers insight into consumer behaviour.

Aug. 20, 2014, Chicago – Staff and patrons at Chicago parks
reacted positively to the appearance of healthier product choices in vending
machines, indicates a study that offers insight into consumer behaviour. 

For the study, recently published in Preventing Chronic Disease, researchers observed, surveyed and interviewed staff and patron
about acceptance of snack-vending items, purchasing behaviours and machine
operations at a sample of 10 Chicago parks.

A new snack-vending contract included nutrition standards
for serving sizes, calories, sugar, fat, and sodium for all items. Fifteen
months of snack vending sales data were collected from all 98 snack vending
machines in park field houses from spring 2011 to fall 2012.

Advertisment

Nine park staff members (one per park) were interviewed from
nine of the 10 sampled parks. At 10 sampled parks, researchers completed 130
park patron surveys and 27 patron purchasing observation sessions. Observations
of machine conditions and compliance were conducted during 27 purchasing
observation sessions and 26 staff visits. Fifteen months of vending machine sales
data were analyzed.

One hundred per cent of staff and 88 per cent of patrons reacted
positively to the initiative. Average monthly per-machine sales increased
during 15 months ($84 to $371). Vendor compliance issues included stocking
noncompliant items and delayed restocking.

Patrons overwhelmingly approved of the more healthful snack
vending items; 88 per cent of those surveyed reported liking the snack-vending
items they tried. Almost all (98 per cent) patrons purchasing snacks from the
vending machines indicated that they would purchase the snacks again.

The main reason given for disliking the more healthful
snacks was that they were not healthful enough. Almost all interviewed park
staff (89 per cent) had tried items from the machines. Of those, 100 per cent
reported liking the products they had tried.

Eighty-one purchases were observed during 27 observation
sessions: children were involved in 44 purchases, 22 of which were made alone
and 22 of which were made with an adult. Teenagers made 18 purchases.
Approximately 70 per cent of the snack items were consumed in view of the
observer.

Overall monthly average sales per machine increased from $84
in June 2011 to $371 in August 2012. 

Read an abstract of the study, entitled “Working With
Community Partners to Implement and Evaluate the Chicago Park District’s 100%
Healthier Snack Vending Initiative.”