snacks in orlando and central florida

Snacks Meet Orlando and Central Florida Employees Where They Are

Snacks. They’re everywhere. In fact, in 2018 Americans enjoyed almost 386 billion ready-to-eat snacks. Whether they are eaten on their own, as part of a meal, or as a meal replacement, snacks need to continue to evolve so they can meet the needs of future Orlando and Central Florida consumers. David Portalatin, NPD Group’s food industry advisor, explained it best when he said, “snack food rolls [are] is changing in different ways in reaction to Americans’ desire for balance, portable snack foods, and holistic wellness.”

Orlando and Central Florida employees are no different. They are also looking for snacks that offer balance, portability and wellness. But what do those three things mean?

Balance

The concepts of healthy and great tasting no longer exist on opposite sides of the aisle. Today’s snacks and beverages meet in the middle. It’s all about balancing enjoyable flavors, textures, and healthy ingredients with a reasonable amount of something sweet over the course of a day or week to help create a balanced diet. Manufacturers are working to meet consumers in the middle by offering thinner versions of their most popular cookies. 

snacks in orlando and central florida

Wellness

For a snack or beverage to fall into the wellness category, it must offer more than just healthy ingredients. It needs to have a purpose or be considered functional. Snack or beverage choices that are high in protein, offer weight management benefits, or include immune-boosting or pro-digestive health ingredients all fall into the functional category. Ingredients such as fiber, prebiotics, probiotics, and alternative protein sources all help a snack or beverage to perform a specific purpose.

Portable

Single-serve, on-the-go, and functional are three attributes that Orlando and Central Florida employees look for when choosing portable snacks. With 86 percent of Americans eating a snack instead of a meal and 20 percent of Millennials eating snacks while running errands, there are a lot of people eating on-the-go. Successful snack manufacturers take that into account and create options that can be enjoyed anywhere.

Do your Orlando and Central Florida employees have access in their breakroom vending machine or micro-market to snacks that are balanced, wellness-focused, and portable? The Vending Station can make sure that those who don’t eat a traditional lunch also have a variety of choices to help meet their dietary needs. For more information or to schedule a product sampling, please call The Vending Station at (407) 891.7632.

Snacks in Orlando and Central Florida

Salty Snacks Get Better-for-You in Orlando and Central Florida

Snacks in Orlando and Central Florida

With all of the cookies, cakes, pies, and sweet snacks that will likely be enjoyed during the next couple months, Orlando and Central Florida employees shouldn’t be afraid to include a few better-for-you salty snacks to balance everything out. Salt can have a bit of a bad reputation, but the word or concept of salt shouldn’t cause anyone to be fearful.

Salt is a mineral made of sodium and chloride, and it plays an important role in maintaining human health. The right amount of salt helps balance fluid levels in the body as well as helping muscles and nerves function properly.

But, and it’s a big one, consuming too much salt can cause some very dangerous health conditions. And therein lies the challenge — understanding where the line is between too much and too little salt, and choosing healthy ways to get the correct amount of salt for your body.

In 2018, snacks have played a more complex role in our daily diet than they did just a few years ago. David Sprinkle, research director for Packaged Facts, a division of MarketResearch.com, explained that “more consumers have moved away from the traditional three meals per day and shifted into a lifestyle involving increased snacking, or multiple smaller meals, throughout the day.”

A recent survey by Surveygoo supports that as 92 percent of the Millennials surveyed said they replaced a meal with a snack at least once a week. 50 percent did it four times a week and 26 percent, did it seven times per week.

Snacks in Orlando and central Florida

New better-for-you salty snacks or mini meals are now made with alternative (non-potato) ingredients such as proteins, grains, vegetables, and superfoods, and include new taste, texture, and flavor combinations. It’s clear that a shift has occurred to include an expanded definition of the snack. Both types of snacks, the traditional and the “mini-meal” healthy snack, need to be available in the Orlando and Central Florida break room.

Employees are looking for new ways to combat the afternoon munchies and to fill a nutritional need during the work day. If that snack is not available at work, they will go elsewhere to find the snack or mini-meal that they need. Offering the combination of new flavors, textures, and healthier ingredients is an interesting way to draw hungry people to the break room.

To offer a wide variety of options for your Orlando and Central Florida employees, update your break room to include vending machines or a micro-market that offer a customized menu of snacks, beverages, and fresh food to meet your employees’ needs and preferences. Whether that means changing up your current offerings, adding coffee service, or updating your entire break room, The Vending Station can help. For more information, contact The Vending Station at (407) 891.7632. We look forward to working with you.

Vending machine options in Orlando and Central Florida

Find a Bit of Spice in Your Orlando and Central Florida Snack Vending Machine

Vending machine options in Orlando and Central Florida

With Halloween rapidly approaching, it’s time to reassess the sweet treats in your Orlando and Central Florida vending machine and consider which sweet snacks would be better with some heat. Spicy snacks have been around for awhile, but they were usually located in the ‘not-sweet’ snack section of the break room vending machine. It’s time to explore new flavor combinations and see what happens when your favorite candy is mixed with a bit of spice.

Historically, cinnamon was the most frequently used spice in the U.S. to add heat to candy. With the increased awareness of and interest in Latin American flavors, that has changed. Today, Orlando and Central Florida employees can find a mix of sweet, sour, and spicy flavors from cayenne, habanero, or sriracha in their sweet vending machine snacks. And Orlando and Central Florida employees are buying a lot of them.

Based on recent sales’ data from CandyStore.com, sales of spicy and hot-flavored candy increased 25 percent between June 2017 and June 2018. Larry Levin, EVP of Consumer and Shopper Marketing at IRI, a market research firm, reported that “sales for non-chocolate spicy and hot attributed candy products are growing eight times faster than non-chocolate in general, at a rate of 25%.” A 25 percent increase over a 12-month period is huge considering that growth in candy, as an industry, has been less than one percent.

Vending Machine options in Orlando and Central Florida

There’s just one more thing to mention.

If Orlando and Central Florida employees are not used to the heat from certain spices, it is important to offer them different options in the break room that will cool the heat. The following suggestions might might help when things are just too spicy.

Milk: Plain milk is one of the best remedies, but if it’s not available, yogurt from a fresh food vending machine or a micro-market would be a great alternative.

Sugar: A teaspoon or a single packet of sugar from the office coffee service could also do the trick.

Milk Chocolate: The fat and casein (the protein in milk) content found in a milk chocolate bar from the vending machine can help combat the heat. While dark chocolate may have more health benefits, milk chocolate is a better choice in this case.

What combination of sweet and spicy do your Orlando and Central Florida employees hope to find in their break room? Whether it leans more to the sweet side or the spicy side, we can help you customize a solution that meets your employees needs and wishes. The Vending Station offers a variety of vending services including micro-markets, office coffee service, and vending machines. For more information, contact us at (407) 891.7632.

Healthy snack option in Orlando and central florida

Finding Healthy Snacks in Orlando and Central Florida Break Rooms

Healthy snack option in Orlando and central florida

Demand for great-tasting healthy snacks in Orlando and Central Florida break rooms is on the rise. As consumers become more conscious or mindful of what they eat, employers have the opportunity to bring healthier snack options into their break rooms and educate their employees about healthy snacking. Malcolm McAlpine, business manager at Branded Snacks — Foodservice and Vending, Mondelez International recently explained that “consumers are becoming increasingly attuned to the nutritional value of the food they consume” and are changing a single-minded focus on low calories to “an emphasis on premium quality, traceable, trustworthy sourcing and simple, clean label ingredients.”

To ensure that potential healthy snacks meet these criteria, Orlando and Central Florida employees are asking the following questions:

  • What is this snack’s origin? Does that make some or all of its ingredients organic? non-GMO?
  • Is the brand or manufacturer transparent about the product? What is the complete list of ingredients? What is the production process?
  • Can this snack be personalized? Will it meet my individual dietary needs for snacks that are gluten free, paleo, keto, or dairy free?

The key to meeting a variety of dietary, transparency, and source or origin requirements is to offer a balance of snacking options including a variety of product types that meet a large number of different needs as well as provide scientifically accurate information for those snacks.This information will educate and support Orlando and Central Florida employees in making healthy decisions and clarifying some of the confusing or mixed messages that are out there.

Healthy snack options in Orlando and Central Florida

Encouraging Orlando and Central Florida employees to try new healthy snacks that are available in the break room vending machine or micro-market often requires several different approaches. One approach is to educate employees about terminology. For example, how is organic different from non-GMO, or what are the different names for sugar that are used in an ingredient list? Education will enable each Orlando and Central Florida employee to make decisions on their own that are appropriate for them.

Another approach is to provide employees with the opportunity to try new snacks or beverages that focus on a specific dietary need. Worrying about the taste of a new healthy snack, and if it is ‘worth it’ to spend the money, are hurdles that employees must overcome before buying something they have never tried. Offering that item as a monthly special with discounted pricing helps those employees who otherwise might not try an item feel better about buying it because they are spending less.

Do your Orlando and Central Florida employees have a list of healthy snacks that they wish they could enjoy while at work? As their employer, you have the opportunity to provide that benefit and customize the break room to meet their needs. Vending machines and micro-markets can be designed to offer the right mix of healthy and traditional snacks and beverages. It’s a great first step to help employees stay healthy and be productive at work. To learn more about upgrading your break room, call The Vending Station at (407) 891.7632. We look forward to working with you.

Chocolate Snacks in Orlando and Central Florida

Sustainable Cocoa in Orlando and Central Florida Snacks

Chocolate Snacks in Orlando and Central Florida

Everyone, well almost everyone, loves to enjoy chocolate as one of their daily snacks. Whether it’s dark chocolate or milk chocolate, the key ingredient is cocoa. Without cocoa there are no chocolate snacks in Orlando and Central Florida. Frank Mars, board member of Mars, Inc recently spoke at the Fourth World Cocoa Conference about his concern about the future of cocoa, and that should concern all chocolate lovers.

According to Frank Mars, the participants at the conference need “to think differently and work harder together; not only on better [cocoa] plant varieties and farming practices and models, but also on pest and disease control.” Mars further explained that the current progress is not enough to make cocoa sustainable unless more change is made.

Sustainable Cocoa

So what exactly is sustainable cocoa? According to the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa, sustainable cocoa is cocoa “produced according to economic, environmental, and social requirements, either through internationally recognized standards such as Rainforest Alliance or Fairtrade, or through sourcing comparable to those standards, which have been verified by an “approved method.” Put simply, cocoa farmers need to be able to produce more cocoa seed on less land with fewer pesticides. The increased cocoa yields would allow farmers to plant crops for themselves in place of less efficient cocoa trees thereby improving their own livelihood and quality of life.

Chocolate Snacks in Orlando and Central Florida

Orlando and Central Florida Employees

Why should Orlando and Central Florida employees be concerned about the cocoa in their chocolate snacks? Because the quality of cocoa used to make chocolate snacks is impacted by the growing, harvesting, fermenting & drying (processing), roasting & grinding, and pressing methods used to make cocoa. Growing, harvesting, and fermenting & drying (processing) are also stages that are directly impacted by sustainable farming practices.

This is important because according to recent research by the Mars Center for Cocoa Health Science, “harvesting and processing of the cocoa seed determines the final cocoa flavanol content,” and “the cocoa seed has a unique combination of flavanols that is found in no other food exactly as it is found in cocoa.” Flavanols are beneficial for Orlando and Central Florida employees’ health. Not only do flavanols support heart health but they also positively impact cognitive function and circulation.

Healthy and mentally sharp employees are great for any Orlando and Central Florida business. One way to ensure that employees have access to snacks with chocolate made from sustainable cocoa is to offer those snacks in the break room vending machine or micro-market. The snacks are healthier, as long as there isn’t too much sugar in them, and easier to find since they are onsite. Don’t forget to offer other healthy beverages such as bottled water or coffee and tea in the office break room to enjoy with a chocolate snack — hydration is also important.

For more information about updating your snack options or customizing a new break room, call The Vending Station at (407) 891.7632. We look forward to working with you.

Break Room Snack Options in Orlando and Central Florida

Orlando and Central Florida, Enjoy a Dark Chocolate Snack Today

Break Room Snack Options in Orlando and Central Florida

Dark Chocolate has made it to the top of the superfood list. Whether it’s a snack or an ingredient in a beverage, dark chocolate has a lot to offer Orlando and Central Florida employees. Before we dive into the benefits of dark chocolate, let’s define what dark chocolate is.

In its most basic form, dark chocolate is cocoa, fat, and sugar. The first ingredient should always be cocoa or chocolate liquor followed by any combination of cocoa powder, cocoa nibs, and cocoa butter. The other necessary ingredient is sugar, which is used to balance the bitter taste of the chocolate. But make sure that the sugar is listed toward the end of the ingredients’ list and always after the cocoa. Here’s a hint to remember — the higher the cocoa percentage, the lower the sugar content.

Question: When is dark chocolate a superfood?

Answer: When it contains high levels of cacao.

For dark chocolate to qualify as a superfood, it must contain a minimum of  70 percent cocoa. The high levels of cacao provide flavonoids, a powerful type of antioxidant. Dark chocolate is also rich in fiber and nutrients like healthy fats, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, and a particular group of free-radical-fighting antioxidants known as flavanols (a type of flavonoid). At 70 percent cacao or higher, dark chocolate has been found to decrease stress levels and inflammation, and improves mood, memory, immunity, and cardiovascular health.

Break Room Snack Options in Orlando and Central Florida

To find a high-quality dark chocolate snack, consider the following checklist:

  • Cacao is listed first on the ingredient list.
  • There is 70 percent or more of cacao.
  • Sugar is listed below the cacao ingredients.
  • No unnecessary ingredients are used such as trans fat, milk (except milk fat), or artificial flavorings.
  • No alkalization or Dutching was used to make the dark chocolate as the processing method significantly decreases the amount of antioxidants in the chocolate.
  • Consider fair-trade or organic dark chocolate to ensure that the chocolate is high-quality, pesticide-free, GMO-free, and was ethically sourced.

Whether Orlando and Central Florida employees want to enjoy dark chocolate on its own or as an ingredient in a snack, there are many different options to offer your employees in the break room vending machine or micro-market. A bar of dark chocolate, roasted almonds covered in dark chocolate, or granola bars with dark chocolate are just a few healthy snacks that provide an energy boost and satisfy a sweet tooth. And don’t forget to include a variety of beverages such as coffee, tea, and bottled water.

Which dark chocolate snacks would your Orlando and Central Florida employees like to enjoy? For more information about adding new snack and beverage options to your vending machines or micro-market, call The Vending Station at (407) 891.7632.

Office Break Room Snacks in Orlando and Central Florida

2018 Food Trends Impact Snacks and More in Orlando and Central Florida

Office Break Room Snacks in Orlando and Central Florida

trend: (n.) a general direction in which something is developing or changing     

   – English Oxford Dictionary

Each year Orlando and Central Florida consumers experience new flavor combinations that take the culinary world by storm, and 2018 is no different. While new food trends don’t instantly appear as snacks or meals in micro-markets or vending machines, they will eventually make their way toward the office break room.  

Here are a few new food trends that you’ll likely see in 2018.

Foods from Hawaii—where East meets West
For years, the Hawaiian islands have been known for their native dishes such as Poi, a staple food made from the root of the taro plant. The influx of cultures from around the world has, however, created new dishes that have made their way across the continental United States. Don’t be surprised if you see any of the following around Orlando and Central Florida in 2018.    

  • Poke (pronounced “POH-keh”) Bowl: chunks of raw, marinated fish, usually tuna, tossed over rice or quinoa, and topped with vegetables and umami-packed sauces.
  • Loco Moco: 1st layer: white rice or fried rice; 2nd layer: a beef patty, Spam, or Portuguese sausage; 3rd layer: brown gravy; 4th layer: a fried egg
  • Malasadas: a Portuguese, eggy, yeast doughnut (with no hole) that is fried and rolled in sugar

Office Break Room Snacks in Orlando and Central Florida

Is it art, or is it food?
Neither—it’s both. Chefs are using a mix of high-antioxidant fruits and vegetables to create eye-candy colored delicacies that that are part art and part food. Whether it’s a snack, a sweet treat, or a gourmet coffee, there are endless possibilities when it comes to combining a variety of flavors and colors to create healthy snacks and beverages. Keep an eye out in Orlando and Central Florida for new snack and meal choices that are almost too colorful to eat.   

  • Green: kale, spinach, peas, broccoli, and kiwi
  • Red: cranberries, strawberries, cherries, tomatoes, and pomegranates
  • Blue/Purple: beets, purple cauliflower, blueberries, eggplant, and plums
  • White: bananas, cauliflower, jicama, parsnips, and turnips
  • Orange/Yellow: lemons, carrots, peaches, mangoes, and sweet potatoes
  • Brown/Black: coffee, chocolate, mushrooms, or licorice

Figs and Pistachios—Two Rising Stars
Both figs and pistachios have been grown in different parts of the Mediterranean, Asia, and the Middle East for centuries. It looks like they will both now have a permanent place in Orlando and Central Florida cuisine. Figs, a fruit grown on trees, can add a wide range of flavors from a hint of maple syrup to a nutty, coffee flavor to almost any dish. Pistachios, a member of the cashew family, also grow on trees and are a nutritionally dense food that pairs well with a wide variety of other ingredients because of its buttery and smooth flavor. If you see any one of the following snacks around Orlando and Central Florida, give it a try.

  • Snacks with Figs: fig bars, dried figs, pastries filled with fig paste, and jam made from figs
  • Snacks with Pistachios: roasted or raw pistachios, pistachio ice cream, pistachio cookies, and trail mixes

Which trends would your Orlando and Central Florida employee like to find in their office break room? If it is time to update your micro-market or vending machine options, The Vending Station can help you customize the right combination of snacks, beverages, and meal choices. For more information about traditional or healthy choices, call us at (407) 891.7632.