Summer is here, and the living is easy… or at least, easier. How does summer affect the vending industry? Read on for ways to maximize the benefits of summer and avoid some of its pitfalls.
Health takes a front seat. This is an overall trend that accelerates in summer. People want to show off their “beach bodies,” so they’re more likely to try to eat healthily when possible. Warmer weather also means that a crisp, cool salad or wrap sandwich is more appealing than the warmer, heavier fare that people crave when the weather turns cold.
Keep it fresh. Again, the emphasis on freshness is a long-term trend that gains momentum in the summer when more fresh foods are available throughout the country. Kiosks like our Bistro To Go™ offer a wide range of fresh foods that see increased sales when the temperature rises. But be careful; when offering fresh food, it’s crucial to keep it fresh! A wilted salad or slightly-off hard-boiled egg can reduce consumer confidence and may chase them away forever. During the summer, when people travel a lot, make sure that fresh choices stay fresh.
Help people stay hydrated. Cold drink sales tend to rise in the summer as the mercury rises. And again, with the emphasis on health, many vending machine operators are moving away from sugary drinks and toward healthier options. Increasingly, people are willing to pay premium prices for high-end items like kombucha, green tea beverages, and smoothies, especially if they contain trendy health ingredients like chia, kale, or antioxidants.
We all scream for ice cream! Some companies are stocking freezer vending machines with frozen treats like old-fashioned ice cream bars and ice pops. And although this might seem to buck the health trend, there are lots of healthy options like frozen fruit bars and frozen Greek yogurt.
Canola or peanut oil? Grapeseed or sesame oil? Extra-virgin or regular olive oil? When it comes to cooking oils, the choices can seem endless and overwhelming. Have no fear; however, a few hints will help you make the best decisions when the time comes to start pouring the oil. To choose the right oil, start by asking the right questions.
What Kind of Fat Does It Have?
All oils contain fatty acids, but the different chemicals in different kinds of fats affect both your cooking and your health.
- Trans fats (like shortening and stick margarine) contain hydrogenated or partially hydrogenated oils. For optimal health, eliminate all trans fats from your diet.
- Saturated fats (like butter and animal fat) are solid at room temperature. Saturated fats should make up under seven percent of your diet.
- Polyunsaturated fats (like canola oil, sunflower oil, and walnut oil) are always liquid, even when refrigerated. Replacing saturated fats with polyunsaturated ones can improve cholesterol and heart health. The omega-3 oils in polyunsaturated fats are particularly important for raising HDL cholesterol.
- Monounsaturated fats (like olive oil and peanut oil) are liquid at room temperature but become cloudy or semi-solid when refrigerated. Monounsaturated fats also improve cholesterol health, and extra-virgin olive oil—the result of the first pressing of the olives—contains antioxidants called polyphenols that can boost health.
What Is Its Smoke Point?
The smoke point is the temperature at which oil starts to burn and smoke, releasing harmful fumes and free radicals. For searing and browning food at a high heat, choose palm, sunflower, or avocado oil. For medium heat, like for baking or stir-frying, canola is versatile, but extra virgin olive oil provides the most health benefits. For light sautéing or sauces, walnut and sesame provide wonderful flavors. Some oils, like flaxseed or wheat germ, should only be used for dressings or drizzling on food.
How Important Is Flavor?
Vegetable and canola oil are great for baking because they have almost no flavor on their own, but that same quality also makes them pretty boring for dressings and sauces. Similarly, strongly-flavored oils like sesame, olive, or walnut can add wonderful dimensions to sauces and meals, but they would not taste good in your favorite brownie recipe.
The bottom line is that no matter what your needs are, there is an oil that fits the bill. Kept to a healthy level, oils can be a delicious and nutritious part of your diet.