With modern day vending machines dispensing everything from pizza and hot ramen to smoothies and boba tea, it was only a matter of time until some enterprising dairy farmers started using vending machines to sell farm-fresh milk.
The Daily Mail posted a story today about two different dairy farms in the U.K. who started selling their milk in unattended vending machines. The impetus for the new machines was recent milk shortages at local grocery stores, thanks in part to the pandemic.
The story mentions the Townsend Farm in Bicester, England, and the Mynydd Mostyn in Berthengam, Wales, both of which sell milk in glass bottles.
On the Townsend Farm, The Milk Churn machine operates from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., seven days a week. According to the family running the farm, the machine gets hundreds of customers each week. In addition to selling straight milk, The Milk Churn also sells syrups for flavored milk (chocolate, strawberry, etc.).
This is actually the second time we’ve written about farmers turning to vending machines during the pandemic. Last month we covered produce farms in France selling fruits, vegetables, eggs and more through unattended vending machines. At least one French farmer reported their vending machine generating tens of thousands of dollars a month in revenue.
Both of these instances show the versatility of modern vending machines. Vending machines don’t require a lot of space or labor and allow farmers to create retail experiences without the need for building out a full store. Vending machines are also capable of handling fresh and perishable items, opening up new retail possibilities that weren’t around before.
I’ll be curious to see if vending machines hop across the pond to farms here in the U.S. Independent farms located somewhat near residential areas could add a revenue stream through unattended retail. And as farmers in France noted, they can sell farm fresh produce for less than what it would cost at the supermarket because there is no markup.
Given all the innovation that’s happening right now, I expect we’ll see a lot of new use cases, errr, milking vending machines for all they are worth this year.