Potentially providing an answer to the age-old question, “What does one do when the line at Chipotle is too long?” California start-up The Box Brands has begun cooking and dispensing fresh burritos in Burritobox vending machines. Consumers have 24/7 access to the company’s two machines, which cook and serve EVOL brand burritos with free-range chicken, grass-fed beef, uncured bacon, and cage-free eggs in 60 seconds. The Burritobox also provides free Wi-Fi and, according to Fast Company, is just one of several machine and cuisine plans that The Box Brands is developing.

Ready when you want it

Vending machines are becoming more sophisticated, offering greater functionality that makes it possible to hold and serve a wider range of products.

Within the food industry, the development of consumer tastes is leading to new market opportunities. According to Mintel’s Ethnic Foods US 2014 reportretail sales of Mexican/Hispanic offerings grew by 5.5% from 2011-13, growing faster than any other ethnic food segment. While traditional vending choices include salty snacks, confectionery and soft drinks, changing consumer taste buds present a real opportunity for vending machines to venture out.

We’ve seen vending machines that sell freshly baked baguettes, freshly made salads, and even fresh cuts of meat. Other machines are serving up treats like cupcakes and specialty coffee drinks.

Opportunities within vending go far beyond the food and drink industries, though. From electronics to cars, companies can cut costs by reducing the need for employees and brick-and-mortar storefronts. At the same time, the vending machine format can make products much more widely available to consumers, often 24/7. And if you ask me, if there’s anything that needs to be available 24/7, it’s burritos.

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