Source: Cook

Cook is planning to roll out at least 15 this year, having trialled the concept in the offices of travel brand Holiday Extras

Cook is launching vending machines for its frozen ready meals.

The frozen food specialist has developed the machines in partnership with smart vending operator Mother. Cook said it wanted to help workers and residents gain access to accessible healthy home-cooked meals whenever they needed to.

The B Corp business said it had an ambitious plan for rollout across office spaces, residential schemes, hospitals, travel hubs and educational institutions – “helping to fuel a better-fed and better-performing workforce”.

It is planning to roll out at least 15 this year, having trialled the concept in the offices of travel brand Holiday Extras.

“The launch of our vending machines comes at an important time for the food and beverage industry, which in recent years has struggled to provide employees and residents with regular healthy meals due to an unprecedented, and unpredictable shift in working patterns due to the rise in remote/flexible working,” said Cook chief sales officer Chris Portwood.

“Helping to provide healthy and affordable options to the UK’s workforce, our new service will help to reduce food wastage and support companies trying to improve the health and wellbeing of their teams by giving access to more healthy convenient food options.

“We plan to launch a minimum of 15 machines this year as we hone our proposition and start to work through manufacturing timelines and requirements from prospective partners. To begin with, the focus will be large offices with requirements for out-of-hours working, residential accommodation, student accommodation and universities with a captive on-site audience of over 500.”

All vending machine items will be sold as ‘complete meals’ that are suitable for microwaving, with vegetarian and low-calorie options, starting from £4.75. Cook said these would include a combination of bestselling meals and seasonal dishes including sticky soy glazed beef, chicken casserole, and portobello mushroom risotto.

Each machine can offer 15 different options and stock up to 140 meals at a time.

Phil Davison, founder & CEO of Mother, said: “We’re thrilled to be supporting Cook on this new venture, helping them develop an entirely new revenue stream and marketing channel for their business. Using our state of-the-art software platform, we’ve developed what we believe is the UK’s first truly smart frozen vending machine.

“Our machines have all been specifically built with the customer in mind, creating highly engaging and simplified automated retail experiences, designed to build customer loyalty and trust.

“The interactive user interface, cashless and mobile payments, product filtering, nutritional information, product animations and special offers all contribute to what customers are demanding nowadays – a modern-day digital retail experience.”

The machines will be leased on a monthly basis by Cook, with an agreement covering the use of the machine and platform, real-time monitoring, a maintenance contract, internet connection and detailed reporting. The cost of the lease will be £395 plus VAT per month.

Cook will work directly with each site or via a contract caterer in terms of supplying the ready meals.