The National Automatic Merchandising Association's annual Innovation Awards recognize cutting-edge suppliers and products in the vending and refreshment services industry. They are: ShelfX's Vending Fridge; LBP's Upshot, Cantaloupe Systems' Seed Mobile, Royal Cup Coffee's ROAR coffee pod line, General Mills Betty Crocker Caramel Brownies and AdvancePierre Drive-Thru Deluxe sandwiches.
Vending Machine, Micromarket or Kiosk
Vending Fridge by ShelfX
ShelfX's novel refrigerated merchandiser features "smart shelves" that know the exact quantity and identity of products stocked on them and what customers remove or return to them. It identifies the items that have been removed in order to process the payment.
Vending Fridge customers begin by downloading the ShelfX app onto their mobile phones to create an account. They point their phones at the Vending Fridge to scan a QR code that unlocks the door, allowing access to food and beverages inside. Customers can also use an RFID-enabled XCard that functions in the same way as the app. The Vending Fridge wirelessly updates customers' accounts and bills automatically.
Vending Fridge's newest option is a small camera integrated with facial recognition software that allows the machine to identify a customer who approaches to unlock the door, track purchases and debit the appropriate account.
OCS, Water or Foodservice Equipment
UpShot by LBP Manufacturing
LBP's UpShot line of eco-friendly single-serve filters is compatible with most Keurig brewers and other single cup systems.
Upshot packs feature a filter with a mesh design that allows consumers to see and smell the coffee or tea inside when they open its seal prior to brewing. Each portion pack accommodates 8g. to 12g. (0.28 oz. to 0.4 oz.) of roast ground coffee. The single-use filters are made from 100% recyclable material, with an outer seal that can also be made with recyclable materials.
The portion packs are paired with a flexible production model, with packaging equipment designed to meet the needs of roasters of all sizes.
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Mobile Payments, Devices or Control Systems
Seed Mobile by Cantaloupe Systems
Seed Mobile route driver app for iPhones, iPod Touches and iPads is designed for operators who run its Seed Office cloud-based vending management system.
The mobile app, available free in the Apple App Store, takes advantage of modern smart-device hardware available from Apple to enable fast and accurate data entry, and to deliver rich graphical displays using photo, video and other iOS features. It is powered by Cantaloupe's all-in-one suite of telemetry, cashless-payment, analytics and vending management software. The iOS app was written to provide a cost- and time-efficient alternative to traditional VMS handhelds.
The initial mobile version offers four services. Photo Audit gives operators access to photos of their machines online, showing each machine's planogram and cleanliness without the need for in-person spot-checking. Video Audit prevents theft by validating that the driver's meter reading matches a video recording of the cash meter. List View saves the driver time while servicing machines by matching on-device displays to the activity being performed. And Status Markers provide at-a-glance tracking of service status inside a machine, saving time when tracking down data-entry problems.
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ROAR Pod Line by Royal Cup Coffee
Royal's Cup's ROAR single-cup pod line is made with 100% Arabica, artisan-quality, specialty-grade coffee. Several ROAR coffees are certified USDA organic or contain coffees grown on Rainforest Alliance Certified farms. The line includes two dozen varieties, including light, medium, dark and flavored selections.
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Betty Crocker Caramel Brownies by General Mills
The 1.7-oz. individually wrapped Betty Crocker Caramel Brownie leverages the iconic cake mix brand in in a convenient, on-the-go format. The moist and chewy chocolate brownie is filled with caramel.
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Drive Thru Deluxe Sandwiches by AdvancePierre Foods
AdvancePierre's Drive-Thru Deluxe sandwiches combine restaurant-quality ingredients with microwavable convenience. The line includes an all-beef cheeseburger with ketchup and mustard, breaded chicken breast fillet sandwich, and spicy breaded chicken breast fillet sandwich with Buffalo-style seasoning. The sandwiches are packaged in printed film that shows off their hearty size and premium quality.
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NAMA presented its 2013 awards to six companies, each representing a distinct category, at its OneShow in Las Vegas.
The first round of judging was conducted by industry veterans Paul Schlossberg, president of DFW Consulting (Goshen, NY); Jerry McVety, founder of McVety & Associates and honorary professor at Michigan State University; and Mike Tompkins, specialty coffee expert and consultant. They narrowed down a pool of 45 applicants.
A panel of five operator judges then scored each entry from the semifinal list to arrive at the winners. On the panel were Tyler Avery, Brown Vending (Brandon, MS); Robert Donahue, Diverse Food Systems (Sacramento, CA); Bob Holmes, Refreshments Inc. (Corinth, MS); Scott Meskin, Black Tie Services (Baltimore); and Jerry Scott, Canteen of Coastal California (Oxnard).