That the two happened at the same time wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. Nutrimeals sells fresh, healthy, pre-cooked meals that just need to be reheated in a microwave. As I wrote earlier this year in The Great Vending Reinvention, the pandemic could provide a boost to automated vending machines like those of Nurtimeals (and Chowbotics and Yo-Kai Express) because they offer convenient full meals on-the-go in a more contactless environment, and there are no human hands serving up your food.
But at the time I also noted that vending machines need to take their current contactless options even further. Many vending machines right now still require you to touch a screen to place your order. Having lots of people paw at the same touchscreen of an unattended vending machine all day seems to negate all the other contactless benefits automated vending machines offer.
Which is why Nurtimeals launched its own app two weeks ago (hat tip to Vending Times). The Nutrimeals app lets customers check inventory of machines, reserve meals and pay for them all through their mobile phones so they don’t have to touch a screen. The meals are even dispensed in such a way that people don’t have to even have to touch the machine to get their food.
Originally the company, like so many other vending services, targeted airports, office buildings and other high-traffic areas as prime locations for its machines. But COVID pretty much shut down air traffic and offices, so now Nutrimeals is targeting residential buildings, and even hotels that don’t have their own food facilities.
Nutrimeals is bootstrapped and its main business remains a D2C meal prep subscription service. It has two vending machines up and running in Calgary and is looking to expand the food options in those machines to include snacks and salads.