Chicago, It’s time to celebrate coffee!

Office Coffee Service in Chicago

October 1 is International Coffee Day, a day celebrated around the world. Each year, the International Coffee Organization, the founder of the holiday, recognizes a different part of the coffee industry. This year, the holiday is focused on the farmers who produce the beans.   

Farmers go through six different stages before the beans are sent to market: 

  1. picking the cherries (what a coffee bean is called when it’s still on the tree); 
  2. washing to remove the outer skin of the cherry; 
  3. drying the beans; 
  4. grading the beans based on size, where and at what altitude they were grown and how they were prepared and picked; 
  5. roasting; and 
  6. cupping or assessing coffee according to sweetness, acidity, mouthfeel, balance and flavor.

Once the beans make it to Chicago break rooms, choosing the right type of brewer becomes the next step. It is important to understand which types of brewers should be used for different types of beverages and the number of employees. 

There are four types of brewers that are primarily used in break rooms: automatic brewers, drip brewers, single-serve machines and bean-to-cup brewers. 

Automatic Brewers: Never run out of freshly made, hot coffee with an automatic machine. Connected to an incoming water line, an automatic brewer can brew either a single pot or multiple pots at one time. Automatic brewers are built to handle high levels of daily traffic.   

Drip/Pourover Brewers: Built similarly to automatic brewers, drip or pourover brewers can handle high amounts of daily traffic. The key difference is that drip brewers are not connected to an incoming water line. The user is responsible for adding water to the machine each time a new pot is brewed. 

Office Coffee Service in Chicago

Single-Serve Machines: This type of brewer can meet a different set of needs when compared to the previous two brewers. A single-serve machine requires less physical space in a break room and can cater to employees who have very different coffee preferences, but it works better in areas with less traffic. 

Bean-to-cup Machines: A bean-to-cup machine uses a built-in grinder to deliver freshly ground and brewed coffee. As with traditional single-serve machines, only one cup can be brewed at a time, but Chicago employees have the option to make a variety of espresso-based, specialty beverages.

There’s one other thing to remember when choosing a brewer. It’s important to understand the steps involved to keep your machine in top shape. Not only will regular maintenance extend the life of the machine, but it will impact the taste of everyone’s coffee. 

But don’t worry, Mark Vend can help your facility/office manager choose the best brewer for your organization, perform required maintenance and create a customized refreshment menu that meets everyone’s snack and beverage needs. We offer a variety of office coffee service, micro-market and vending service solutions for your Chicago break room. 

For more information, please call Mark Vend at 847-291-9216. We look forward to celebrating International Coffee Day with you.

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Coffee Benefits in Chicago Without the Actual Beverage

office coffee options in chicago break rooms

Coffee and everything related to it has more of an influence than most Chicago employees realize. In fact, it’s impact isn’t only related to the caffeine boost that comes from drinking the beverage. 

Recent research in the Consciousness and Cognition journal found that exposure to coffee-related cues, without having actually consumed any coffee, can trigger a chemical-response pattern in the brain that increases “concrete, precise thinking and mental arousal, or attentiveness.” It’s sort of like Pavlov’s dogs, but in this case, individuals are exposed to non-chemical but coffee-related cues which then trigger a chemical-response pattern in the brain. 

So what types of coffee-related cues in Chicago office break rooms could cause this effect? The answer is almost anything such as colors, sounds and smells that can be observed. Let’s take a look at one of America’s favorite hot beverages and the five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch), and see how each sense can impact alertness and attention.

Taste: While the concept of taste is often associated with the physical act of drinking, taste can can also play a role in a more abstract way. For many Chicago employees, the “taste” of coffee is often the first thing that comes to mind when someone else mentions coffee.

Sight: Seeing a physical object such as an image of a mug, roasted beans or even an actual cup of coffee are just a few of the many different visual cues that can create a response.

office coffee options in chicago break rooms

Hearing: Understanding which sounds have the ability to trigger the chemical-response pattern is a bit more complicated as sound is unique for everyone. Several popular sounds include grinding beans, the brewer brewing and sounds that are associated with a favorite local cafe.

Smell: The sense of smell is similar to the sense of hearing in that everyone experiences it differently, but freshly brewed coffee, the smell of beans being ground or that favorite cafe tends to elicit almost the same reaction from everyone.

Touch: Experiencing the feel or size of a favorite mug, picking up the container that holds the ground beans, pressing the start button on the grinder or using an espresso machine or favorite French press are all ways to activate the brain via touch without ever drinking a single drop.

Whether it’s by itself or in combination with other senses, the human body takes in many different observations during the day. It’s time to increase the likelihood that more of your employees will benefit from the coffee effect and design your Chicago office coffee service to engage all of the senses.

Mark Vend can help customize a refreshment menu that includes the hot beverages your employees seek out as well as healthy snacks, cold beverages and fresh food. A successful break room is more than just a place to grab a quick snack. It’s a welcoming and relaxing place that encourages employee creativity, collaboration and productivity. To update your current break room menu or design a new break room space, contact Mark Vend at (847) 291-9216. We look forward to enjoying a cup of Joe or tea with you.

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Chicago, Enjoy Healthy, In-Season Fruits and Vegetables

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The end of August signals to many Chicago employees that summer is almost over, but there is still time to enjoy August’s best tasting and healthy fruits and vegetables. Summer, in general, is a great time to slow down, relax and enjoy the warm weather. And delicious food is usually not far behind. Whether it’s grilling out or picking fresh fruit and vegetables from the garden or local farm, healthy options are abundant.

Before the busy fall season begins, it is important to bring back or develop new, healthy habits, and that includes eating enough fruits and vegetables.  According to nutritionists at ChooseMyPlate.gov, adult women should consume between 2 and 2.5 cups of vegetables per day and between 1.5 and 2 cups of fruit per day. Men should consume between 2.5 and 3 cups of vegetables per day and about 2 cups of fruit per day. 

To meet those guidelines consider adding any of the following eight healthy, late-summer fruits and vegetables to your diet.

Tomatoes: Big, red and juicy often describes ripe tomatoes in the summer. Full of water but low in carbs, tomatoes are known for their beta-carotene or vitamin A and vitamin C. Beta-carotene converts to vitamin A and combats the effects of free radicals, improves cognitive function and may protect against common eye diseases. 

Bell Peppers: The summer harvest of bell peppers offers a variety of different tastes from the most bitter, green bell peppers to the sweetest, red bell peppers. High in water and fiber but low in calories, bell peppers offer a variety of health benefits from a boost in immunity to improved eye health and heart health to a decreased risk of anemia.

Tomatillos: Although tomatillos may appear to be small green tomatoes, they are closely related to South American Cape gooseberries and are full of healthy boosting vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Among its many benefits, tomatillos can reduce the chance of diabetes, boost the immune system and reduce the risk of some cancers.

Summer Squash: Two of the most well-known summer squash are zucchini and yellow squash. Low in carbs but high in water, they are a great source of Vitamin A, B6, and C, folate, magnesium, fiber, riboflavin, phosphorus and potassium. These nutritional workhorses protect against heart and common eye diseases as well as boost immunity and bone strength. 

Grapes: While grapes contain important nutrients for bone health and protect against certain bacteria, viruses and yeast infections, the skin of red grapes contain high amounts of anthocyanins, an antioxidant. Anthocyanins protect heart health, improve blood flow to brain, lower blood pressure and protect against damage caused by free radicals.

healthy break room options in chicago

Peaches: Another delicious summer fruit, peaches provide good amounts of fiber as well as Vitamin A, C and numerous minerals. A variety of antioxidants protect against cancerous cells, help prevent chronic health conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure and heart disease, and boost the immune system. 

Nectarines: Like peaches – high in fiber, low in calories and without the fuzz, nectarines also help improve digestive health and resist obesity-related diabetes and heart disease. Nectarines also offer numerous B vitamins which are important for the metabolism of carbohydrates, protein and fat and in the formation of red blood cells.

Cantaloupe: Offering more beta carotene than apricots, grapefruit, oranges, peaches, tangerines, nectarines and mangoes with same amount of vitamin C as a small orange, cantaloupes help fight free radicals in the body as well as support hydration, eye health, the production of red blood cells and the immune system.

Supporting employee consumption of healthy fruits and vegetables while at work helps support Chicago employers too. Healthy employees are more creative and productive and have fewer sick days. Whether it’s hunger or thirst, employees will be able to stay on-site when they need something to eat or drink. 

Mark Vend would like to work with your organization to customize a refreshment menu that delivers a variety of options and draws employees to the break room. Add an extra benefit by offering office refreshments at a reduced or zero cost and increase the appeal. For more information or to schedule a tasting appointment, please call Mark Vend at (847) 291-9216.

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Delicious Beverage Trends in Chicago Break Rooms

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Coffee, tea and energy drinks will never look the same. Change up your employees’ energy-boosting beverage routines with three new mashup trends.

A mashup requires at least two separate ideas or, in this case, beverages and combines them in new, unusual and exciting ways. Today’s new beverages include ingredients that appeal specifically to Millennials, the largest generation in the U.S. workforce.

Coffee Plus Sparkling Water, Juice and Plant-Based Water

The first trend highlights how coffee, a popular energy boost, can be combined with unlikely partners to create healthier beverages with new flavor profiles.  

  • Sparkling Water: A healthier option than traditional carbonated beverages, sparkling water has been combined with ready-to-drink (RTD) coffee, resulting in a low or no sugar, carbonated and energy-boosting beverage.
  • Fruit Juice: Traditional juice has gotten a bad rap over the past few years, but that is about to change. Mix a blend of cold-pressed fruit juice and cold brew coffee with light carbonation and discover a delightful, caffeinated blend that is bubbly and naturally sweet.
  • Plant-Based Water: Flat bottled water comes in a variety of options including plant-based waters like coconut water, watermelon water and maple water. Mix coffee with maple water and enjoy a naturally flavored and sweetened RTD coffee.

Tea, Energy Drinks, RTD & Cold Brew

Tea has long been known to be a healthy beverage with long list of health benefits. Unfortunately, tea hasn’t always been at the top of Millennials’ most-favorite beverage list. To remedy that, drink manufacturers are incorporating tea into energy drinks and sparking beverages as well as using new brewing methods.

  • Cold Brew: Just as with coffee, tea can be made using the cold brew method. The final beverage packs a punch with 75 percent more caffeine than a typical RTD iced tea.
  • Ready-to-Drink: Speaking of RTD teas, new options have been made using sparkling water instead of traditional, flat water.
  • Energy Drinks: Depending on the type of tea leaves used, such as guayusa, green tea or matcha, tea has become a viable option to enjoy instead of traditional energy drinks.
beverage options in chicago

“Clean” Caffeine Sources

Just as with clean snacking, many health-conscious, Chicago employees are looking for “cleaner” energy drink options. Several new beverage choices get their caffeine boost from guayusa or green tea plants, offering both the energy benefits of caffeine and the health benefits of tea. To add to the number of choices, another beverage combines green tea with sparkling water and L-theanine, an amino acid, which offers a clean caffeine boost without the crash that happens with caffeine sources lacking L-theanine.

Chicago employers can add any of the above options to the break room beverage menu, and their employees will have one more reason to stay on-site during the workday. Encouraging employees to find their refreshment on-site can lead to an increase in productivity as less time is spent in transit and more time is spent collaborating and working.

Does your break room micro-market or vending machines offer the snacks, beverages and fresh food your employees are looking for? How about traditional coffee and espresso-based beverages? 

It’s time to reevaluate your refreshment services program, and Mark Vend would like to help. We offer a variety of options and will customize the perfect menu that delivers the choices your employees are looking for. For more information or to schedule a sample tasting, please contact Mark Vend at (847) 291-9216.

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Snacks Adapt to Meet Chicago Consumer Needs

healthy snacks in chicago

The future of healthy snacks looks bright according to Fact.MR, a market research firm. Their recent report examined current and future scenarios of the snack market for the years between 2017 and 2022 and found promising data for the healthy snack sector. 

According to the report, changes in the definition of health and wellness have led Chicago consumers to seek transparency when it comes to the ingredients in their favorite snacks. Unlike previous years when a brand name, by itself, could sell a snack, today’s consumers prioritize the quality of ingredients over brand names. In addition to organic ingredients, non-genetically modified organism (GMO), clean, low-sugar, gluten-free, and healthy ingredients are at the top of the most wanted ingredients list.

Two additional characteristics continue to influence consumer demand. New snacks must have the ability to bridge the gap between nutritious and indulgent and offer ingredient lists that take regional or local taste preferences into account. 

Now that we know healthy snacks aren’t going anywhere, what can Chicago employees expect to find in their break room vending machines or micro-market? Both snack bars and sippable or ready-to-eat soups will likely make an appearance, if they haven’t already. 

healthy snacks in chicago

While snack bars will continue to be consumed as snacks, many will also be used to replace a meal. Bars eaten as meal replacements will need to offer nutritious ingredients including a variety of healthy proteins. Healthy sippable soups can also function as a snack or a meal thanks to healthy ingredients, convenience, and versatility. 

Which healthy snacks do your Chicago employees look for when they need a quick bite to eat? Do they have a favorite beverage? It’s important to understand which products they reach for first in order to be able to offer the most highly desired products. 

We would like to help your organization customize a healthy vending machine or micro-market menu to meet your specific needs. For more information or to schedule a product sampling, please call Mark Vend at (847) 291-9216.

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Chicago, Enjoy a Healthy Snack Straight from Nature

healthy snack options in chicago break rooms

Blueberries are a delicious healthy snack that are often enjoyed by themselves or as an ingredient in something else. This time of year, blueberries can be found almost everywhere from farmer’s markets to pick-your-own farms to the grocery store. July is especially important for blueberry lovers; it’s National Blueberry Month!

Some blueberry related healthy snacks or mini meals that Chicago employees might enjoy during their day include blueberry breakfast bars, blueberry muffins, blueberry yogurt or parfait, blueberry smoothies, a fruit salad with blueberries or a dark green salad with blueberries and nuts. Choosing to eat multiple mini meals or snacks during the day can help employees meet nutritional requirements, control blood sugar, and maintain metabolism. 

And that is true whether or not Chicago employees choose to enjoy blueberries. It is important for everyone to consume enough fruit in their diet. According to ChooseMyPlate.gov, the recommended number of fruit servings per day depends on the individual, but the CDC “federal guidelines recommend that adults eat at least 1½ to 2 cups per day of fruit.”   

Reading the ingredient list on the packaging of a healthy snack is a great way to see if that snack contains any fruit. If blueberries are a primary ingredient, they will be listed toward the front of the list as ingredients with the largest amounts are listed first followed by the others in descending order. The nutrition panel on the package is another place to find information about a snack. It lists the serving size, how many servings in the package, calories per serving and other nutrients.  

healthy snack options in chicago break rooms

For blueberries, 1 cup (148 grams) of fresh blueberries contains 84 calories, 0.3 g fat, 0.0 mg cholesterol, 1.0 mg sodium, 21.5 g total carbohydrates, 14.7 g sugar, 3.6 g fiber and 1.1 g protein. There is also 9 mg of calcium, 9 mg of magnesium, 0.4 mg of iron, 18 mg of phosphorus, 114 mg of potassium, 14.4 mg of vitamin c, 9 µg of folate, 80 IU of vitamin a, and 28.6 µg of vitamin k.

Learning about nutrients is important. Some – like saturated and trans fats, cholesterol and sodium – can be very unhealthy when consumed because they increase the risk of developing certain diseases. Healthy nutrients do the opposite; they can help reduce the risk of developing some diseases, and healthy employees are much better for Chicago businesses.

Employers have the opportunity to contribute to the health and wellness of their employees by offering healthy snacks, food and beverages in their break room vending machines or micro-markets. Employees only need to take a quick trip to the break room instead of going off-site to find a healthy option. 

What healthy choices does your Chicago break room offer? To learn more about healthy refreshment options, and how you can turn your break room into a great employee benefit, call Mark Vend at (847) 291-9216. 

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Coffee Service in Chicago Delivers More Than Coffee

coffee options in chicago break rooms

“…a good cup of coffee always contributes to the positive mood of the employees and customers.”

– Oliver Garn, CEO and Country Manager for Austria and the Netherlands at EVOCA Germany GmbH

Whether at work in Chicago or overseas, quality office coffee service (OCS) is important. Gone are the days of everyone arriving at the office at 8:00 a.m. and leaving at 5:00 p.m. Today, many individuals work flexible hours, use a variety of different workspaces and often blur the line between personal and private lives. A well-designed OCS supports company employees and guests regardless of the time of day or workspace.

Let’s look at three reasons why your Chicago business should offer a sought-after OCS.

Expectations

Employees usually expect several things when it comes to beverages at work; hot beverages, cold beverages, water service, excellent taste and quality, great service and a solution that is customized for them. The first three expectations are self-explanatory, but the others require more information. 

  • Taste and Quality are subjective. For either criteria to be met, the chosen OCS must be the right match. Employers can meet these preferences by considering brewing equipment, coffee options and tea varieties. 
  • Excellent ongoing OCS from a vending provider is also crucial. The best brewing equipment, beans or tea cannot overcome service that repeatedly disappoints and upsets employees.
  • A customized OCS solution looks back at the previous two expectations. Not only must employee and guest needs be considered but the service record of the vending provider should be examined.
coffee options in chicago break rooms

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A great OCS can positively impact an organization’s reputation with both employees and guests. Just as with a well-loved coffee shop, a break room with delicious coffee, espresso-based beverages and hot tea can have a welcoming and pleasing atmosphere that encourages collaboration, creativity and productivity.

Appreciation

Refreshment services including office coffee service is a great way to express employee appreciation. Everyone, well almost everyone, enjoys receiving something free. Offering delicious hot beverages as well as healthy and traditional cold beverages and snacks at no cost in your Chicago break room is one way to thank your employees for all they do.

Are you ready to boost your office’s coffee experience? Mark Vend would like to help. To learn more about our OCS as well as healthy or traditional snack and cold beverage options or to schedule a tasting, contact Mark Vend at (847) 291-9216.

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Bottled Water Options in Chicago

bottled water in chicago break room

Bottled water has done it again. “For a third year in a row, bottled water is the No. 1 packaged beverage in the United States,” according to Jill Culora, IBWAs vice president of communications. Bottled still and/or sparkling water is also 72 percent of Americans’ preferred non-alcoholic beverage, an increase of nine percent over 2018. For those who prefer bottled water, taste is the most important feature (98 percent) followed by quality (98 percent), and safety (90 percent).

With 84 percent of Chicago residents trying to drink more water, and the hot summer season upon us, let’s take a step back and look at fun summer beverages that often began as flat or carbonated water.

  • lemonade: water, lemon juice, and a sweetener, to taste
  • iced tea: water, tea, and a sweetener, if desired
  • fruit/veggie/herb-infused water: water plus any combination such as strawberry & lime, lemon & basil, strawberry & basil, lemon & raspberry, and cherry & lime

If none of those flavor combinations sound appealing, consider choosing one or more of the following fruits and vegetables that are in-season in the Chicago area: mint, blueberries, apricots, kiwi, cherries, cucumbers and peaches. There are also a number of different ways to infuse the water with the flavors of your choice. 

bottled water options in chicago

You might try squeezing a bit of the juice from citrus fruit (ex. lime, lemon or orange) into a glass or pitcher of water and enjoying. Depending on the size of the container, sliced or chopped fruit can be placed at the bottom of a pitcher or glass and soaked overnight (pitcher) or for a couple hours (glass). Berries can be mashed and placed at the bottom of a glass, and the glass filled with water. For herbs, such as mint leaves, tear up the leaves, cover them in water, and let the water steep. 

The number of flavor combinations and preparation methods are limitless, but not everyone will have the option or want to prepare a water-based beverage. 

While almost three-quarters of Americans voted bottled water as their first choice, don’t forget about other popular beverages. Sixty-one percent of those polled ranked coffee in second place and soft drinks in third with 59 percent. In 2019, Chicago employees have a lot of healthier options available including natural and organic sodas and carbonated juices. 

Mark Vend would like to help Chicago employers provide their employees with healthy beverages and snacks in their break room vending machine. Hydrated and satiated individuals have more energy and are more focused. For more information or to schedule a product sampling today, call Mark Vend at (847) 291-9216.

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5 Popular Beverages in Chicago

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Chicago residents and employees are on the hunt for new beverages that meet a variety of wellness-related needs. To stay current and keep up with growing demand, beverage manufacturers are continually offering consumers new and exciting options to explore. 

Functional beverages, as a group, are a segment within the rapidly growing nonalcoholic beverage market, which is expected to grow to $1.6 trillion in sales by 2025. The fastest growing category in the nonalcoholic beverage market, functional beverages, includes ready-to-drink (RTD) coffees and teas, and relaxation, hydration or energy drinks.

Christina Wood, Sales and Marketing Director at OptiBiotix Health Plc, recently spoke about the expected demand. “Whether vitamin or ‘enhanced’ water to fend off illness, energy drinks to combat fatigue or sports drinks to aid exercise, they [functional beverages] provide the multipurpose value expected by today’s informed [consumers].”

And those consumers also expect to be able to easily purchase their preferred choice at any time of the day.  it’s easy to make sure that Chicago employees can access different functional beverages in their break room vending machine or micro-market

RTD Cold Teas

Enjoy a variety of healthy and organic teas made with Fair Trade ingredients. There is an option for everyone from unsweetened to sweetened teas made with organic sweeteners and tea with or without fruit flavors.

Enhanced Fruit Drinks

The term ‘juice’ takes on a new meaning when it comes to enhanced fruit drinks. Today, these beverages are made from unique ingredients like the coffee fruit and have no artificial sweeteners, flavors or colors.

Fruit Infused Flat or Carbonated Bottled Water

Bottled flat or carbonated water with fruit infused flavors offer the benefits of plain bottled water without any diet sweeteners or sugars. They are zero calorie, zero preservative, vegan, gluten-free and kosher.

office beverages in chicago

Sparkling or Flat Mineral Water

Mineral water offers additional health benefits when compared to traditional bottled water. As mineral water’s name suggests, there are extra minerals such as calcium and magnesium in the water that Chicago individuals need. 

Coconut Water

Coconut water is a new, healthy choice for staying hydrated. It’s naturally gluten-free, lactose-free, and dairy-free beverage with potassium, magnesium, sodium, calcium, and phosphorus that hydrates.

Not sure which functional beverages your Chicago employees might enjoy? Try offering a beverage taste testing event. If everyone knows a bit more about what is available and how it tastes, they are likely to be more comfortable purchasing it. 

And don’t forget to pair your beverage offerings with a variety of snack options. Make it easier to grab a bite to eat or drink without having to go off-site. Hydrated and satiated employees are likely to be more productive and creative. For more information or to schedule a product sampling, please contact Mark Vend at (847) 291-9216.

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Vending Industry Shines at NAMA Show

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Earlier this month, leaders in the Chicago vending industry joined their counterparts nationwide in attending the annual NAMA show in Las Vegas. Their goal was to explore new trends, technology, and products to bring to their customers. The show is an annual tradition sponsored by the National Automatic Merchandising Association, a group representing the $25 billion convenience service industry in the United States. 

Advancements in vending machines, coffee service, micro-markets, and pantry services were on display. Attendees took advantage of the opportunity to learn about them and connect with other industry members. Some of the world’s most popular brands were represented. They were complimented by new showings from fledgling entrepreneurs. Over 100 new exhibitors joined the show this year, and overall the show welcomed over 360 exhibitors and 4,500 members.

A total of 125 new products premiered at the show, and it is clear that healthy snacks and beverages continue to be a key growth category. The show’s Better For You Pavilion featured a collection of healthier items, and healthy products as a whole occupied its largest space ever at the show. Visitors discovered new items that continue to increase the appeal of healthier food options. 

Advancements in technology were also on display at the show. New and easier ways of processing digital payments that keep pace with consumer’s desire for quick, cashless payment at vending machines and in micro-markets were presented. Innovative systems that optimize up-to-the-minute sales data, maximize delivery route efficiencies, and minimize out-of-stock occurrences were also revealed.

The NAMA Show also featured a large number of educational speakers who are experts in their fields. Speaker Neil Swindale discussed marketing strategies that will help vending providers thrive in our quickly evolving digital age. Neil is the owner of VendCentral, a top marketing agency for the vending industry, and an expert in customer lead generation and engagement. 

With the vending industry constantly changing, keeping up with the latest technology and best practices is a great way for Mark Vend to ensure that we are up-to-date with what is going on and provide the best products and services to you, our clients. We offer complete vending solutions to businesses and organizations in Chicago. Contact us at (847) 291-9216 for more information and a free consultation.

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