How to keep your desk job from killing you slowly.

Staying healthy at work can be difficult, from morning sweets brought in by a co-worker to long hours sitting at your desk, all these can factor into your long term health without you realizing it. New research is finding out that a sedentary lifestyle can be as detrimental to our health as smoking a pack of cigarettes every day. Here’s how your desk job is killing you slowly.

“Sitting is so incredibly prevalent that we don’t even question how much we’re doing it. And because everyone else is doing it, it doesn’t even occur to us that it’s not ok.” Nilofer Merchant said at TED 2013. An increase in the amount of standing desks entering the workforce is a positive but more can be done. A recent study from Career Builder states that 41 percent of people have gained weight at their jobs and most of that can be attributed to unhealthy snacking.  It’s not just about our activity levels on and off the clock but our eating habits as well.

Below are a few statistics on how sitting can be slowing harming your health and how to make minor improvements throughout the work day.

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Vending Outside the Box

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The world of vending is expanding beyond the typical machines found in your office break room. Self-checkout (also known as micro markets) is new on the scene and a great way for employers to provide vending solutions in a non-traditional format. Most often found at larger workplace locations, self-checkout markets are growing rapidly with no plans to stop.

The concept of a self-checkout market resembles a small convenience store without a cashier and allows patrons to select snacks, meals and drinks from a variety of racks and coolers. The patrons would then bring purchases to a self-checkout touch screen kiosk. This allows the consumer the convenience to pick up items and check nutrition labels before purchasing them.

These markets also allow for more customization when it comes to products and allow for promotional integration with employer health and wellness programs. In vending, fresh food selections are limited, but fresh is what sells in self-checkout markets. More than 25 percent of micro market sales are from fresh food, which allows for more healthy products to be added. Self-checkout customers were asked what they like most about the new market and a majority, 79.8 percent, like the variety.

It’s like having a convenience store in your own facility; each layout is customizable to the needs of your facility and food preferences. If your company is interested in expanding your vending options, let us know by giving us a call at (888)-795-8363.

Millennial Parents Shaping the Snack Industry

The world of snacking is constantly changing as new trends emerge. The snacking habits of millennial parents are forever changing the snacking industry. Millennial parents have been choosing healthier options for their families and letting their families be a part of the decision making process.

Millennials are eating more snacks than any other group. Food Navigator stated that the sales of snacks have grown more than 3% a year since 2008. Millennials snack during meal times more than any other generations. There is a trend for Millennials to have snacks as a meal replacement for breakfast, lunch, and dinner more than any other generation. So not only are Millennials snacking more frequently, they are replacing traditional meals with snacks which have helped Grab and go food items succeed.

According to Packaged Facts, there are three mega trends shaping the children’s food industry:

  1. Industry players must consider the generational influence of the millennial parent on the children’s food and beverage market.
  2. Manufacturers and marketers consider ethnicity and  race for food and beverage products.
  3. There is an increased focus on nutrition through stealth- health and real food movements. Many food companies are sneaking fruits and vegetables into kid-friendly foods. Parents are more likely to buy foods with healthy terms such as clean, local, and organic.

Millennials want healthier snacks. This generation has grown up in the obesity crisis with the media pushing them to find healthier options. Millennials are reading product labels more than any other generation to find products with low calories, no trans fats, no added salt, etc. This generation is looking to more natural options such as fruits and vegetables. Millennials are strongly influencing the flavors of snacks with a desire for more complex, bold, and spicy flavors.

With these trends in mind, it is easier for the snack food industry to reach millennial consumers. Some common snack trends for Millennial parents are: low-prep and prepackaged meal replacements, high protein snacks, healthier snacks with lower fat and sugar, and convenient on-the-go options. In terms of snacks, millennial moms prefer snacks that have no artificial ingredients.  Bars, nuts, yogurt, and chips are being sold at a record rate. Chips and chocolate are still the most popular, but healthier options are making up a larger percentage of snack choices.

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Micro Market Innovation

Self-service micro markets are a fresh idea for a new break-time experience by combining fresh, nutritious meals and snacks with ease of use and technological innovation. Micro markets are more limited and focused on a select group of consumers, offering a full range of healthier products. These markets have a wide variety of tasty and healthy options with the convenience of having a fresh marketplace within your company campus. With soups, salads, fruits, vegetables, frozen foods, cold drinks, and other snack foods, there is enough diversity to please everyone.

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Micro markets are self-checkout convenience installations that offer 24/7 retail-style merchandising with state-of-the-art unattended self-checkout kiosk technology. With the choice of a variety of fresh foods, snacks, and beverages, you can have open product access and a variety of healthy and fresh food selections. Not only do employees have access to hundreds of healthy products, but they can also take time to evaluate product labels and nutritional information before making a purchase. Micro markets are an innovating and exciting way to make break-time a little more fun and much healthier, which increase employee morale and productivity.

Employees who stay on campus can get back to work quicker and are more likely to be satisfied with the healthy options. Associates can accumulate points with the purchase of healthy items to encourage healthier choices. Micro markets have a simple and secure checkout process: employees checkout using their own credit/debit cards, key tag, or smartphones. Each company has unique needs so each company’s micro market is designed slightly different.

Some key benefits of having a micro market in your company include:

  • Convenience: Company Kitchen is open 24/7
  • Cashless kiosk: Use a market card, credit or debit card to pay
  • Fresh-made foods and a great selection
  • Nutritional tracking allows employees to create a personal, online profiles to track nutritional data

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Healthy Vending Trends

Many food trends come and go, but one thing that has stayed consistent is that people like healthy foods. Vending machines are continuing to offer healthier options in order to meet consumer demand. Vending Market Watch said, “More than a quarter of Americans (30%) claim to usually only snack on healthy foods and almost half (45%) of those consumers claim that nutritional value is the most important factor in the foods they eat.” Consumers prefer having healthier choices so those vending machines that offer better snacks are more likely to succeed.

Vending machines have come a long way over the years. In the past vending machines were often thought of for only selling candy, soda, snacks, and other indulgent foods. Today, society is so fast paced that people are always looking for a quick and healthy snack, so vending machines are offering healthier options. Consumers should take a few minutes to look at the vending machine to make the healthiest choices.

Schools are especially trying to offer healthier products in order to offer nutritious options for students. Some vending machines are refrigerated to sell sandwiches, quick meals, fruit, and vegetables. Other healthier vending options include nuts and popcorn. Although there are healthier options available today, there are still many indulgent options that are high in fat, sugar, salt, preservatives, and artificial sweeteners. When looking to make a purchase, find items that are high in protein, fiber, vitamins, or other nutritional benefits.

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Companies can help employees make better snack choices at the vending machine by:

  • Putting signs or stickers by the healthier items to make them more noticeable
  • Subsidizing the cost of healthier products to encourage employees to purchase healthy items over unhealthy items
  • Having taste test events with employees to allow everyone to try the healthier options
  • Providing educational nutritional programs for employees about healthy snack choices
  • Working with the vending company to increase the number of healthy choices available

Cornell University researchers proved that junk food is not causing the obesity epidemic, but it is the fact that people are overeating. With this in mind, it is okay to indulge yourself to a treat once in a while as long as you do so in moderation. Vending companies will continue to add healthier options to their vending machines so be sure to choose products that meet your nutritional needs, but be sure to treat yourself once in a while.

Let us know what healthy products you would like to see in vending machines!