Sales of products through vending machines rose by 2.8% in 2006 to £3.52bn. The number of vending machines in operation also increased to 1.3 million, an increase of 3.1% on 2005. Sales growth in the vending market between 2002 and 2006 outperformed the increase in household expenditure on food and non-alcoholic beverages over the same period.
The three main sectors of the vending market are refreshment machines; cigarette and tobacco machines; and other vending machines. The largest sector is refreshment machines, which includes hot and cold drinks, snacks, confectionery, sandwiches and meals. The fastest-growing sector between 2002 and 2006 was other machines, which includes a wide range of non-food and beverage items, such as newspapers and magazines, personal care products and condoms. Sales of cigarettes through vending machines have demonstrated the slowest rate of growth since 2002 and are now accounting for a steadily declining percentage of the market.
A number of new legislative measures are expected to have an impact on the UK automatic vending industry. These include: the EU directive on the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE), which is the main legislation applicable to vending machines at the end of their life; The Restriction of Hazardous Substances Regulations (RoHS) Directive, which restricts the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (including vending machines); and the European Food Safety Regulation, which requires all food businesses to base their food safety management on what are called Hazard Critical Control Point Principles (HACCP).