Vend Natural meets demand for quick, healthy snacks

April 27, 2015

BALTIMORE SUN – Consumers are snacking a lot more frequently than they did decades ago, but they’ve also become more health-conscious.

Both trends are fueling sustained growth for an Annapolis-based operator of natural and organic snack vending machines, says the company’s CEO.

“Vending has been around a long time … but this isn’t like traditional vending,” said William Carpenter, CEO of Vend Natural, which bills itself as the oldest “healthy” vending company in the United States. “You are giving an option to people that necessarily weren’t buying out of vending machines.”

Since buying the company in 2009 and signing the U.S. Naval Academy as one of its first Baltimore-area customers, Carpenter and his partners have seen sales grow each year, the CEO said.

The 8-year-old company does not disclose annual revenue, but says it owns and operates more than 300 machines, plus more than 600 more in partnership with regional distributors, at colleges, universities, schools, municipalities, hospitals and businesses in 14 states. Typically, the machines sit next to traditional vending machines selling soda and candy bars.

Amid concerns over childhood obesity and other health threats, interest in alterative vending is growing from schools and colleges, including a contract Vend Natural announced this month with the University of Virginia. The company, which fills its machines with fruits and vegetables, baked pita chips, energy bars and other snacks and drinks, also is now branching out into chilled and flavored water and gourmet coffee.

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