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This study analyzes the global market for refrigerated vending machines by region and location. Market size and trends are also included separately for smart vending machines. Excluded from the scope of this study are vending machine parts, including retrofit products used to add smart capabilities to previously sold traditional vending machines.
Historical data (2009, 2014, and 2019) and forecasts for 2024 and 2029 are presented for refrigerated vending machines in current US dollars (including inflation).
Demand by Region
An already weak market for vending machines was exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, which lead to a global recession and a drop in fixed investment expenditures.
Nonetheless, the global market is expected to rebound in 2021. However, the recovery will not be fast enough to secure substantial gains at the global level for the entirety of this period. Nonetheless, the expansion of the market will be bolstered by:
improving economic conditions in most regions
rising living standards in industrializing nations and increasing demand for refrigerated and frozen foods and beverages
the growing availability of refrigerated vending machines in developing markets and the expansion of their electrical grids
the introduction of better performing refrigerated vending machines that feature advanced technologies (e.g., contactless payment)
increased interest in vending machines in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic to maintain hygiene
The Asia/Pacific region – which had a 56% share of the global market in 2019 – is expected to account for the bulk of new product demand between 2019 and 2024. The region is dominated by Japan, which was responsible for 58% of regional sales in 2019. However Japan’s market for refrigerated vending machines is saturated and expected to decline through 2024. Despite the decline in Japan, there remains significant expansion opportunities throughout much of the rest of the region, especially in low and middle income countries where vending machine operators are looking to take advantage of rising disposable income levels, which will more than offset the falling sales expected in Japan.
China, for instance, is expected to see sales increase nearly 4% annually through 2024, among the fastest growth rates in the world. The widespread availability of affordable models will continue to facilitate the development of China’s refrigerated vending machine market, along with increasing consumer demand for refrigerated and frozen products, growing urbanization, and high levels of nonresidential building construction.
In North America, weak conditions in the leading US market – where a large number of machines have already been installed – will prevent the region from registering growth through 2024, although gains in Canada and Mexico will moderate losses to some extent. In the US, losses will be the result of:
reduced soda consumption
consolidation in the number of vending machines in a given place by operators
more intense competition from micro market vending systems that do not utilize vending machines
The European commercial refrigeration equipment markets are each expected to grow less than 1.0% per year between 2019 and 2024. In mature markets, the large stock of installed machines will prevent them from seeing new product demand increase to a greater extent. Elsewhere, consumer preferences will continue to limit the use of refrigerated vending machines.
In Central and South America and the Africa/Mideast region, demand will continue to be modest. Many nations have unreliable electricity grids, low levels of consumer spending, and large rural populations. Additionally, refrigerated and frozen products are not particularly popular in these areas.
Demand by Location
Refrigerated vending machines are used in numerous locations around the world, although there is some variation among nations and regions. Refrigerated vending machines can be located in:
office buildings and other workplaces
hospitals and clinics
schools, universities, and other educational institutions
public transportation facilities
hotels and other lodging facilities
other locations such as clubs, correctional facilities, and outdoor public spaces
Such facilities often lack adequate cafeteria or foodservice capabilities, creating demand for cold snacks or beverages offered by vending machines.
Globally, workplaces accounted for 26% of all refrigerated vending machine demand in 2019. Consumers tend to use refrigerated vending machines the most in areas they spend long periods of time, such as office buildings and schools, or as a quick, convenient source of food and drinks while participating in other activities, such as shopping or visiting a hospital.
The COVID-19 pandemic had a significant impact on the installation of new refrigerated vending machines in all of the major locations in 2020 and will continue to do so in 2021. With the closing of concert venues, offices, schools, and other facilities, many operators of vending machines dramatically reduced their spending on new equipment.
Some locations, however, have been harder hit than others. For example, many office workers began working remotely from home when the pandemic struck, adversely impacting associated use of and demand for vending machines, while most factories and warehouses have remained open, bolstering vending machine demand at these locations.
Widespread remote learning has also a had negative effect on demand for vending machines in schools and universities, counteracted to some degree by greater use of vending machines to reduce human contact at facilities that remained open. Some operators also installed more machines at existing locations to reduce service visits.
Global demand for refrigerated vending machines is forecast to grow less than 1.0% annually through 2024 to $1.6 billion, an improvement over the substantial losses of the 2014-2019 period. Among the trends that will support these minor gains are:
a global economic recovery during the post-pandemic period
expansion of their electrical grids in developing nations, helping increase consumer spending on refrigerated and frozen food and beverage products
the introduction of state-the-art, versatile, and efficient models, including those that accept cashless payments, which will help make vending machines an option for quick impulse purchases
the growing availability of refrigerated vending machines in Eastern Europe, Central and South America, the Africa/Mideast region, and numerous Asia/Pacific countries (e.g., India)
However, weakness in the large and mature US and Japanese markets – which were responsible for 43% of 2019 sales – will constrain global gains through 2024. Economic weakness related to the COVID-19 pandemic will also limit growth going forward.
Smart Vending Machines to Provide a Bright Spot for Vending Machine Demand
Despite tepid growth in vending machine sales overall, opportunities remain. The vast majority of newly installed vending machines offer smart features and internet connectivity, which can both boost product sales and reduce maintenance expenses:
Credit card readers and mobile payment options can boost sales in increasingly cashless societies.
Transaction software can inform vending operators what products are selling at a given location, enabling them to optimize sales.
Sensors can monitor equipment performance and notify operators of needed maintenance in a timely manner, reducing unneeded trips to the machine.
While older machines can be retrofitted to incorporate most of these features, newer machines have them built-in and also include greater energy efficiency (such as LED lighting and better performing refrigeration systems) and better visual aesthetics, so replacing older machines instead of retrofitting them is likely to provide better returns.
Sales Poised to Expand Outside Mature Japanese & US Markets
Japan and the US are two of the world’s three largest markets for refrigerated vending machines, with Japan alone comprising one-third of global sales in 2019. Demand is expected to decline in these countries, which will weigh down global growth.
Excluding Japan and the US, the global market for refrigerated vending machines is expected to increase at a more positive rate of 1.7% per year through 2024. China, for instance, is expected to see sales increase nearly 4% annually through 2024, among the fastest growth rates in the world as the widespread availability of affordable models will facilitates development of its market. Many other low and middle income nations in the Asia/Pacific and Africa/Mideast regions will register demand gains above 2% per year through 2024. There is a much lower installed bases of refrigerated vending machines in these areas, providing ample opportunities to enter new markets.