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Vending machines are not new as a concept and have been providing pre-packaged food like beverages, snacks, chocolates, chips, and cookies. The new-age machines boast of providing healthy food options.
If you work at Tata, Samsung, Vivo, Paytm, Vodafone, OLX, or OYO, you will be greeted by a vending machine when you go back to the office after two years of working from home.
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After COVID, employers feel many employees would want extra precautions in food handling, and this has led to firms looking out for options, including installing vending machines. Many corporate cafeterias and kitchens had been shut since the lockdowns started and are slowly getting their steam back.
For the extra-careful and hesitant employees, there are firms like Daalchini Technologies, which provide instant home-cooked food, snacks, ready-to-eat products, beverages through IoT-enabled phygital (physical+digital) vending machines.
Apart from the companies mentioned before, Noida-based Daalchini boasts of having onboard companies such as Genpact, E&Y, Snapdeal, Cushman & Wakefield, MX Player, Optum, Thales, Smartworks, Whirlpool, and L’Oréal, among others.
Prerna Kalra, co-founder of Daalchini, had herself faced the issues workers face during lunchtime. She was working at Paytm and had no time to cook and was left wanting home-cooked meals during lunch. The idea for Daalchini came from a trip to China where she saw vending machines dispensing momos, fruits, etc. She started the firm with Vidya Bhushan.
Now the chief executive of Daalchini, Kalra said: “Even before the pandemic, we were focusing on building smart vending machines with healthy food products. The pandemic gave this initiative a push. Now that offices are reopening, we are seeing a surge in demand from companies across India.” She said the machines can even be rented.
Vending machines market in India is expected to witness a growth of 14.9 percent CAGR during 2020-2026 and demand for minimal touch food from employees returning to offices will give the sector a big push.
Vending machines are not new as a concept. They have been present at workplaces, hospitals, airports, railway stations, retail stories and film exhibition halls. These vending machines largely provided pre-packaged food like beverages, snacks, chocolates, chips, and cookies. The new-age machines boast of providing healthy food options.
When Daalchini began, corporates were its major customers, but now demand is shooting up, the firm says.
At a Daalchini webinar recently, Rajat Khatri, AVP, Infrastructure & Logistics, Genpact, said: “With the danger (of COVID) still standing on the edge, we are sceptical about re-operating our corporate kitchens. At this time of uncertainty, vending machines have been a silver lining. They provide hygienic food with no human intervention, making it a perfect substitute for our cafeterias.”
Akshay Arora, assistant director of food and beverages at E&Y, said, “Even in this post-pandemic world, employees are reluctant to come to a public place and eat or socialise like before. This challenge has been solved by food vending machines in our offices.”