25 June 2014
While-u-wait fresh fruit juice machines address adulteration concerns
Concerns over contaminated beverages among mainland consumers have proved a major boost to a new range of fresh-fruit juice vending machines – refrigerated units that peel and squeeze oranges in full view of waiting purchasers.
|Fresh juice in 45 seconds – the Vingoo vending machine.|
Food scares and growing concerns over additives have seen natural fruit juices become ever more in demand across the mainland. With the provenance of bottled and pre-prepared fruit drinks frequently being brought into question, the emphasis is on drinks that are not only fresh, but are prepared while the consumer is in situ, leaving no room for any suspicion of adulteration.
One innovation that has clearly addressed this concern head-on is the introduction of DIY juicing vending machines. One such unit has been recently installed in Dalian Market's food hall. For just Rmb10, the machine will peel and squeeze five fresh oranges – while the consumer waits – dispensing a cup of orange juice within 45 seconds.
The unit consists of three primary components – the juicer, the refrigeration cabinets and the payment processing facility. After inserting the required coinage into the payment slot, the customer can view the entire juicing process – peeling, cutting, juicing and dispensing – through a transparent panel. After just 45 seconds, 300ml of fresh juice is then delivered in an eco-friendly receptacle.
All of the oranges used in the unit are between 60-80mm in diameter, with the machine's fruit stock continuously monitored wirelessly. Once any unit runs low on oranges, an alert is remotely triggered and centrally-based staff are dispatched to replenish the stock.
|Low on juice: thirsty customers.|
The juicing vending machines have been manufactured by the Shanghai Giant Intelligent Technology Co Ltd, with the company trading under the Vingoo brand in this sector. Much of the technology in the units is said to be proprietary and patent protected. These innovations are said to centre around the stock control, temperature monitoring and maintenance (constantly kept at an optimum 5°C) and a number of environmental factors.
In order to assure the quality of the produce in its machines, the company has signed 10-15-year agreements with a number of fruit-growers in the Three Gorges area, China's premium orange cultivation region. Fresh oranges are then dispatched to centres close to the installed machines by a dedicated logistics network managed by Vingoo.
Prior to launching Vingoo, Zhou Qi, the Founder of the brand, spent seven years living in France. It was during this time that he got his first experience of working with vending machines, largely as an employee of Nestlé, the Swiss-owned confectionery giant, and its network of chocolate bar dispensing units.
Taking many of the principles he'd learnt on board, in 2009 he returned to China and set about establishing his own health-conscious vending network. Looking for a memorable name for his juice-dispensing machines, he settled on Wuge Liuding ("Five oranges"). In 2011, the company installed its first machine – in a PCD store in Shanghai. Today, it has units in prime locations in 30 first- and second- tier cities across the mainland, including Beijing, Shanghai, Changchun and Wuhan. In terms of its business model, the company has chosen not to go down the franchise route, preferring, instead, to work directly with local operators.
Shirley Li, Dalian Office