Canadian Vending

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In late 2006, the federal government passed legislation regulating the types of vending machines that could be imported into Canada for purchase

November 12, 2008
By Treena Hein


In late 2006, the federal
government passed legislation regulating the types of vending machines
that could be imported into Canada for purchase. The purpose of
instituting the Canadian Energy Efficiency Regulations was just that


In late 2006, the federal government passed legislation regulating the types of vending machines that could be imported into Canada for purchase. The purpose of instituting the Canadian Energy Efficiency Regulations was just that – to legislate the reduction of energy use within a wide variety of industries. 

“Throughout 2007 the government allowed our industry some leniency and time to get compliant,” says Jeff Suitor, “but effective Jan. 1, 2008, the Canadian government tightened up and focused specifically on this issue.”

Suitor is a co-owner of Brokerhouse Distributors in Toronto, past president of CAMA (the Canadian Automatic Merchandising Association) and present chair of the CAMA Advocacy Campaign.
Regarding the level of compliance of importing machines that meet the regulations, Sonia Parent, media relations spokesperson for Natural Resources Canada (NRCan), says “The industry has been very cooperative and as of today there are almost 30 models on the NRCan web listings for compliant products. These are the most efficient, new vending machines on the North American market as the Canadian energy efficiency levels are the same as those for Energy Star in the United States.”


The regulations require that approved products are third-party energy efficiency verified.

“Third party verification means that an independent certification body confirms the energy efficiency performance values reported to NRCan,” says Parent, “and authorizes the placement of its energy efficiency verification mark on the product. To offer an energy efficiency verification program for vending machines, the certification body in turn must be accredited and monitored by the Standards Council of Canada.”

Kim Lockie, CAMA president and owner of McMurray Coin Machines Ltd. in Fort McMurray Alta., says CAMA is “supportive” of the regulations.

“There’s nothing that needs to be changed,” he states. “The manufacturers I’ve talked to don’t have a problem with it. Existing equipment is grandfathered. Eventually everyone will be compliant.”

Suitor notes that “many manufacturers in our industry were caught off guard with not being compliant (and) they quickly scrambled to get their certification process completed.”

However, Suitor adds, “No manufacturers today are shipping machines that don’t meet the energy efficiency criteria, resulting in a greener solution for the vending industry.”

Parent confirms “there have been no fines to date.”

Dan Stewart, president of Savco Foodservice in Sarnia, Ont., is also supportive of the legislation.

“It hasn’t really been an issue raised by my clients,” he says. “I don’t have a problem with it. I think it’s a positive thing for the industry. We all have to contribute to achieve more energy efficiency. I think the vending industry should be seen as contributing to what degree is feasible.”

Business ramifications

One question that has received attention is that of how the regulations apply to sandwich and drink machines.

Under the regulations, each vending machine must be able to go to “low-power mode during periods of extended inactivity” with “controls … capable of on-site adjustments.”

For example, the lights can be turned off overnight, or the average beverage temperature is allowed to rise above 4.4°C for an extended period, or both. 

However, machines containing sandwiches obviously do not need the capability of adjusting temperature, as the food must stay constantly cold. With regard to this issue, Parent says “The regulations only require that a unit have energy-saving features that can be enabled independently during periods of inactivity, if appropriate. One feature permits lights to automatically turn off while a separate one allows the average temperature of the refrigerated beverages to rise to 4.4 C.”

She adds, “As any refrigerated vending machine can dispense perishable, as well as non perishable drinks or food, the regulations do not require the use of these power states. However, by requiring all new units to have these features, dealers and owners can now reduce their operating costs by enabling these energy-saving features as appropriate.”

The other main issue raised by the regulations is how they will impact overall profits. In early 2005, Canadian Vending Magazine reported “True enough that vending operators will fear the consequences of mandatory consumption levels for cold beverage venders. It will mean equipment conversions and replacement; it will mean conversations regarding access to power at a location … and it may bring up the ugly debate over who ultimately pays for the energy use of the equipment.”

Said another way, because the cost of electricity in buildings continues to rise, there is concern amongst members of the vending community that new contracts are going to stipulate that all machines must be the new energy-saving type, leaving some machines idle and requiring a sudden significant investment in new machines.

Suitor observes “In California and now here, energy savings is becoming a standard part of Request for Proposals. In the proposals that are being put out there, governments are demanding energy efficiency.”

Lockie agrees that the types of machines could matter a great deal in negotiating contracts.

“If I’m using all new compliant machines,” he says, “it would be one of the deciding factors (in getting a contract). It’s going to help a lot.”
Suitor advises “to be ready when the contract comes up. You may be able to negotiate a lower commission based on the fact that the new efficient machines provided in the proposal are going to save venues money in the long-term.”

Suitor sees these regulations as another trend that must be accepted and dealt with properly, making the best of it.

“The bigger picture is that the world is requiring better efficiency of energy,” he says. “It’s similar to the trend of providing nutritional products, a trend that we have to address. We’re well on our way, and I predict that within five years we will all have only energy efficient machines out there. We’re in the transitional period and this is a natural evolution of our industry.”

He concludes, “I think that you can sit there and do nothing and represent the industry as it has been perceived – as making people fat and sucking a lot of power to do it – or you can spin it into a good news attractive story. You can say ‘These vending machines provide nutritious products and significant energy savings to boot and your meet people’s need for food and beverages.’”

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