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EDITORIAL: The Executive Editor's Desk

Posted On: 7/9/2007

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The VENDING TIMES Buyers Guide and Directory issue is a unique reference work, in that it assembles timely information on vending, OCS, foodservice, music, games and bulk vending resources in a single publication.

For more than four decades, we have recognized that the route operation of merchandise vending and coin-op entertainment equipment, and provisions for related services to the locations served on these routes, can usefully be seen as a single diverse industry. These enterprises all have trucks on the street, and their support systems -- from fleet management through money handling to field maintenance -- are very similar.  Our Buyers Guide addresses the needs of today's versatile route operators, and its continuing popularity as an industry resource illustrates the value of this view.

The 2007 VT Buyers Guide once again features the streamlined format we adopted five years ago. A single, complete entry for each listed company appears in the main section, the Alphabetical Listing, beginning on Page 131. Seven main indices precede this alphabetical listing: Major Machine manufacturers; Mini-Market, OCS & CSV manufacturers; Specialty Machine manufacturers; Vendible Products suppliers; Allied Products & Services suppliers; Music & Games manufacturers and suppliers; and Trade Associations. These indices contain only the names of the companies relevant to each category, and direct the reader to the alphabetical listing for details.

More than 2,000 companies are included, indexed by the types of products and services they offer. For example, the reader will find full-line "candy/snack/pastry" machine manufacturers in the "Major Machines" manufacturers index, under that subcategory. Because this Buyers Guide contains some 200 subcategories, which can be daunting, we've also included a one-page Product Index that lists all the categories and their subcategories (Page 93).

Equipment distributors and vendible product sales specialists (brokers and warehouses) -- integral to the functioning of our three-tiered industry -- are listed in their own sections, organized geographically. In the Distributors section, we specify the types of equipment they sell and support (vending, music and games, OCS and money handling equipment).

The Buyers Guide portion of this issue starts with VT's highly regarded Major Machine Specifications section, a useful guide to current-production full-line, floor-standing electronically controlled vending machines, along with money changers and jukeboxes. Here, the reader will find essential information on some 100 vending machine models, arranged according to products vended: candy/snack/pastry; combination snack/beverage; cold drinks (including milk and other perishable types); hot beverages; food -- refrigerated and frozen; and combination refrigerated food/beverage. A wide variety of money changers, designed specifically for vending and amusement applications, and the latest jukebox equipment (now predominantly digital downloading models), also are listed in a side-by-side format to allow the reader to compare features.

The classification of full-line vending equipment remains a challenge, with machine designs evolving into multiple-category merchandisers offering a greater variety of foods and beverages. Today's multipackage cold drink machines equipped with health controls can accommodate milk, drinkable yogurt or fresh packaged juices alongside traditional soft drinks, RTD teas, sports and energy drinks and water. New types of combination machine designed specifically for perishable food and drink represent a relatively new subcategory. Consolidation among the major machine manufacturers continues to spur vending machine design evolution.

Throughout this decade, the strongest demand has been for snack and packaged cold drink machines, which has focused design efforts on these types. Vending machine engineering, like technology in general, progresses from one plateau to another, rather than following a continual upward trajectory. Periods of rapid advance are interspersed with interludes during which the new developments are refined and integrated more tightly into successive designs, and operators become familiar with them and begin to explore the many new things that they can do. We appear to be in such a period at present, although trends in the wider world of engineering continue to facilitate the development of new peripheral devices.

Again in 2007, our annual Buyers Guide appears as part of the July issue (Vol. 47, No. 7); the monthly news section occupies Pages 10 through 50.

We remain committed to improving the VT Buyers Guide, year by year, and welcome suggestions from our readers. Manufacturers and suppliers will find a questionnaire for next year's issue on Page 259. If your company is not listed in this year's issue, or if you wish to correct or update an existing entry, we encourage you to copy, fill out and send us this form by facsimile to (212) 221-3311. The form also is available at our website,