BIRMINGHAM, England -- The Automatic Vending Association, which represents the vending industry in the United Kingdom and Ireland, challenged final-year culinary arts management students from the University College, Birmingham, to develop products for six key vending segments. Their responses will be viewed and judged at the biennial AVEX convention and trade show here.
The service segments are B&I, education, healthcare, leisure, staff catering and transport. The students, taking part in a brand new Culinary Product Development module, recently presented their concept products to AVA officials.
The items will be on display at the 2013 AVEX, and will be judged by a panel of experts on Wednesday, June 12, from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. in Hall 3 of the National Exhibition Centre.
The judges include Tim Franklin-Heys, head of the culinary team at Unilever Food Solutions; Richard Ehrlich, chairman of the Guild of Food Writers; Tracey Graham, owner of Abercromby Vending (Glasgow, Scotland); Gillian White, founder of 24Vend; Lee Holdstock, trade relations manager of the Soil Association, a nonprofit organization that promotes organic farming; and Paul Howard, managing director of Nebrak Ltd., an interior design company specializing in vending and office beverage service facilities.
"The challenge was to develop a delicious new range of vending products that will not only meet consumer demands of a healthy balanced lifestyle, but also look and taste great," AVA explained. "When considering new products, the students' aim was also to look at vending in a new way, to help develop an improved customer perception of the industry and meet the needs of our changing society."
Unilever will present the finalists with a set of kitchen knives at the inaugural Awards Dinner, which is set for the Hilton Birmingham Metropole Hotel at the NEC site, also on June 12. A special award will also be given by Nebrak for the best marketing plan.
AVA notes that vending is a £1.65 billion market in the UK, with some 5.5 billion vends a year. It employs more than 15,000 people. AVA has represented the interests of the vending industry since 1929.