Revenue from U.S. vending consumable merchandise was $24.5 billion in 1999, an increase of 4.9% over 1998, according to the Automatic Merchandiser magazine's State of the Vending Industry Report in August 2000. This figure includes both machines and products. Small companies, with sales of less than $1 million, accounted for 5.8% of the market and had projected sales for 1999 of $1.35 billion. Three quarters of all vending operators are classified in the small category.
Within the industry, snacks and cold beverages are the largest product segments, representing 29% and 25% of the industry, respectively. These two segments are the driving force of the industry. The food category grew at a rate of 7% last year, according to the Automatic Merchandiser. Cold storage machines grew at an even more impressive 42% in 1999, with this growth coming at the expense of shelf-stable products.
Broader economic and cultural trends are also positively impacting the industry. Food sales away from home have become a larger part of total food sales in the U.S. since the 50's, according to the Department of Agriculture. Technomic, a Chicago-based research firm, reports an increase in demand for takeout meals as the percentage of two-parent households declines, along with the decline of the three regular sit down meals per day.
Consumer preferences about taste, price, nutrition, convenience, and technology are changing. These changes favor the vending industry, which now has the opportunity to spot these trends and develop their markets.
According to the National Restaurant Association, revenues from restaurants are expected to reach $321 billion in 1999. This is a large and healthy industry in our economy, and suppliers to this industry are expected to benefit from this growth.
4.1 Market Segmentation
Chef Vending will market its machines to three distinct market segments:
End Users- Operators that have their own vending routes who wish to expand their product selections. Included in this category are large institutional food service companies that engage in vending operations as part of their overall food service business.
Distributors- Companies that supply operators with machines and supplies for their operations.
Branded Sandwich Manufacturers and Branded Juice Companies- By working closely with these companies, we will customize our machines to meet their specifications and to allow them to "brand" our machines with their products. They will either supply the machines or sell them to their customers who will buy product supply for the machines from these companies.
We have two markets for our equipment business:
Restaurants and Hotels - End users who benefit from the equipment purchased.
Equipment Supply Companies- These are large supply houses that offer a variety of equipment to the food & beverage industry.
The following Market Analysis table and chart are broken down by general market segments, versus the specifics listed above.
Cold Beverage Machines
Hot Sandwich Retail Sales
Juice Sales Retail
4.2 Industry Analysis
The U.S vending industry is divided into three main segments:
Operators- Companies that buy and place vending machines on their routes, sell the product and service the machine, and range from small family businesses to large national companies.
Manufacturers- Companies that manufacture machines for sale to operators.
Distributors- The link between the manufacturer and the operator. Supplies the market with both machines and products for operators.
The food & beverage industry is divided into similar segments:
Food & Beverage Establishments- This segment covers the entire spectrum of bars and restaurants.
Suppliers- Companies that supply the establishments with all of their food, paper, and equipment needs.
Supply Houses- Acting as a distributor, these firms supply an area with their required supply needs.
4.2.1 Competition and Buying Patterns
Both the food & beverage and vending industries are highly competitive. Price, Return On Investment (ROI), reliability, and customer service are the factors most effecting a buying decision.
There are many large name brand companies with vending machines in the market. We will focus on creating a niche market for our innovative machines, to compete with larger more recognizable names. By being first to market, we have a unique opportunity to brand ourselves and our machines.
Buying patterns are fairly consistent across the year.
4.2.2 Distribution Patterns
Distribution in the vending industry typically runs through a distributor. These distributors will carry a brand of machine for sale in a defined geographic region. In some instances, manufacturers sell direct to operators or end users. Another form of distribution is to be a supplier to a nationally branded company. Similar distribution patterns are established in the food & beverage industry.
4.3 Target Market Segment Strategy
Chef Vending's initial strategy is to offer all of our products to all segments of the market. We will focus on both the end user and the distributor initially, as the strategy to secure accounts with the nationally branded companies will take some time to realize. We will reach our target market in one of three ways. First, we have begun a small advertising scheme in industry trade publications highlighting the many features and benefits of our products. Secondly, we have joined the National Automatic Merchandiser Association (NAMA) and have introduced ourselves and our products to distributors and end users at the NAMA annual convention in October, 2000; we will also participate in their Southeast regional show in South Carolina and in their national show next year. Finally, we will pursue personalized relationships with contacts developed at these shows and with regional companies in the South and Central Florida area.
For equipment sales, we will focus on end users and distributors in the South and Central Florida regions. As we gain market share in these markets we will expand geographically.
4.3.1 Market Needs
The principle market need we will be addressing will be revenue. Each of our machines will act to expand existing sales for operators, and in many cases will create new markets entirely. For the operator that is already vending snacks, a high end sandwich will enable this operator to expand his or her sales without cannibalizing existing sales. For the coffee vendor, a perfect compliment to a gourmet cup of vended coffee will be a fresh cup of orange juice. By creating a new untapped market, the operator will be able to expand revenue streams beyond their existing accounts. Another important need we will fill with our multi-line machines and our equipment, will be price. As we will be competing with existing supplies already in the market, we will price our products to be highly competitive in order to attract clients.
4.3.2 Market Trends
Growth rates in both the vending industry and the restaurant industry remain strong. This growth is fueled by the changes in the workplace and workforce that are causing workers to consume more of their meals away from home. Away from home food sales are expected to increase by 53%, according to NAMA.
As more and more consumers eat away from home, the demand for higher quality is also growing. Vendors are now offering a full line of packaged frozen meals in their machines. Margins will increase as premium prices are being placed on branded, high-quality products.
Demographic trends are affecting the industry. A large group of young adults, who mainly grew up on fast food, have emerged as an economic force. This group's perceptions on fast food, technology, and vending, will have a positive impact in the vending business. Furthermore, overall population growth rates, and immigration trends particularly, will also have a tremendous economic impact on the vending industry. Much of the growth in both of these areas will be in the Southeast, where Chef Vending is poised to capitalize on these trends.
4.3.3 Market Growth
Studies by Automatic Merchandiser reflect an industry growth rate of approximately 4.8% over the last five years, matching the overall growth of the U.S. economy.