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The Wall Street Journal reports that one of the major impediments to using vending machines to sell healthier snacks, including fruits and vegetables, is getting a machine to deliver an unbruised banana.

But the existence of a problem just means that somebody has the opportunity to come up with a solution. As the Journal writes, “The Wittern Group Inc., one of the biggest makers of vending machines, and fruit and vegetable marketer Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. say they are tackling this problem with a new machine specifically designed to dispense whole bananas and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables.

“At Wittern's headquarters in a suburb of Des Moines, refrigeration engineer Jerry Parle shows off the new device, its red and orange exterior festooned with Del Monte logos and pictures of whole pineapples and other fruit. The machine - which went on the market earlier this year - has two temperature zones. The top is loaded with bananas kept at about 57 degrees. The bottom zone - kept at about 34 degrees - holds packages of fresh-cut fruit and vegetables. Wittern says having the two zones helps more than double the shelf-life of bananas, from two or three days to five days or a week ... Future models will include special elevators that will pluck fruit and vegetables from their display spirals and gently lower them to the bin.”
KC's View:
Innovation lives.

What these kinds of machines do, of course, is make it easier for a wide variety of retail venues to compete with traditional supermarkets. Which is why it is so important for such stores to find non-traditional ways to market and merchandise their wares throughout the store.

The worst thing any store or chain can do in such an environment is work under the assumption that because people have always bought their produce at supermarkets, they’ll always do so. That’s the kind of assumption that leads to marketing irrelevance.