Food & Beverage TrendWatch: H.U.M.A.N. Healthy Vending

healthy vending machine

FoodNavigator-USA recently picked its list of 10 food and beverage entrepreneurs to watch in 2014 and its filed people who are finding profit in healthful, innovative, inspiring food trends.

This is the first in a series highlighting the best of FoodNavigator-USA’s list of 10 food and beverage entrepreneurs to watch in 2014.

Sean Kelly and Andy Mackensen are the men behind H.U.M.A.N. Heathly Vending. HUMAN, which stands for ‘Healthy Unite Mankind And Nutrition,’ calls itself the world’s first 100% healthy vending machine company. HUMAN touts itself as:

…a socially responsible franchisor of healthy vending machine businesses focused on increasing access to healthier foods and drinks by way of eco-friendly, high-tech vending machines that vend better-for-you foods and drinks, including fresh fruit and locally-sourced products.

The company sells vending machines and stocks them  ‘healthy snacks’ (Pirate Booty, Popchips), ‘healthy bars’ (Luna, Clif), ‘healthy drinks’ (Izze, Horizon milk boxes) and ‘healthy juice’ (Hansen juice boxes, O.N.E. Coconut Water).

According to HUMAN’s website, each year Kelly personally visits the Natural Products Expo to taste test and approve every snack. The company was just named one of Forbes Magazine’s “America’s Most Promising Companies” and Entrepreneur Magazine’s “100 Brilliant Companies” of 2011. And, rightfully so. They are growing rapidly with HUMAN currently operating 1,000 vending machines that sell ‘healthy’ food items with the goal of expanding to 10,000 machines across all 50 States by 2015. And, they give 10% of their profits to charities that fight the causes of obesity.

Good trend or bad trend?  There are so many problem with this. First, ‘healthy’ snacks and drinks are often filled with sugar and carbs and some like, Vitamin Water, are hardly ‘healthy’ at all. And, packaging on single-serve snacks and beverages are mostly un-recyclable unless they have a Terra-Cycle program going, and still its bad. They even know enough to call their products ‘better-for-you’ because ‘good-for-you’ is nonsense. That said, even if you’re not a believer in vending machine food and over-packaged single serve food products, you have to admit that its a good idea. I’d like to see more stringent vetting of products (like nix the Vitamin Water), possibly like Whole Foods. But, like marketing bottled water to kids, vending machines and snacks are not going away and so ‘healthy’ snacks seem better than the alternative.

Update: I jumped the gun on this post. I have written a new post, Greenwash Alert: H.U.M.A.N. Healthy Vending, about how HUMAN wants you to believe that their products are better and more healthy, but in several cases they are not.

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