Out of the box thinking
Serving the interests of coffee service and vending industry throughout Europe, the European Vending Association protects its members through lobbying actions, education and raising industry awareness
Since its foundation in 1994, the European Vending Association (EVA) has operated as a non-profit organisation committed to serving the interests of the European coffee service and vending industry in relation to EU institutions and other relevant authorities and bodies. The EVA operates as an internationally recognised association governed by Belgian law and its membership comprises 15 European National Associations representing 16 countries, as well as 78 corporate members. EVA members also include the National Automatic Merchandising Association (NAMA) and European Drinking Water Cooler Association (EDWCA) as associate members, with overlapping synergies and interests throughout the international vending industry.
“The EVA was founded in Brussels so that it could be close to other industry associations. Brussels is the capital of power within Europe, so it was important for the vending industry to be represented there with its own office to manage legislation and to be close to key decision makers,” elaborates Director General, Erwin Wetzel. “The vending industry covers a lot of generalised areas such as packaging and nutritional information that can be covered by other associations, but also covers more specialised areas that require a targeted representative.”
In accordance to EVA statutes, the association’s members are divided into five distinct categories, ranging from full members to associate organisations and supporting companies. Its members cover a broad spectrum of industry sectors within the coffee service and vending market. While its national associations and corporate members have different sizes and resources, they share a common objective of serving and promoting the vending industry with national authorities and to the EU. The various aspects of the coffee and vending industry covered by EVA members include machines, such as table tops, freestanding, combimachines, coffee, cans & bottles, snacks, ice cream and hot meals; cups in paper or plastics; ingredients (milk, coffee, tea, chocolate, soft drinks, snacks, etc); water filters; coin mechanisms; banknote validators; cashless systems utilising cards, tokens, keys and contactless payments; and security systems.
Vending represents an important and growing market within Europe and includes a significant manufacturing sector with plants principally located within Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain and the UK. There are currently approximately 3.74 million vending machines in Europe, 2.2 million of which dispense hot drinks with the vast majority of these comprising tabletop coffee machines. These machines are commonly located in offices and businesses, corresponding to an average of 140 European workers for every hot drinks machine. Across Europe, the industry employs more than 85,000 individuals directly within some 10,000 companies. Throughout Europe the annual turnover of the business amounts to around €11.8 billion. The largest markets within Europe in the coffee service and vending industry are currently Italy, France, the UK, Germany, Spain and the Netherlands, which in total make up around 77 per cent of the total European market.
As such a large and increasingly diverse market, the vending industry is subject to the trends of several industry sectors as well as the changing requirements of international and national legislation. The EVA provides a vital platform and single point of contact to represent and promote the needs of its members. In December 2014 for example, new European legislation was introduced that had a significant impact on foodservice operators and vendors throughout the market. EU Food Information Regulation No 1169/2011 (FIR), also known as Food Information for Consumers Regulation (FIC), relates to the way that operators and their suppliers label and describe nutritional and allergy information on packaging. “FIC represented a significant challenge to the vending industry, however the EVA was able to exclude the vending machines themselves from legislation that would have meant that operators would had to provide information relating to pre-packed foods on the machines. For products including snacks, pre-packed sandwiches and canned drinks the requirement is to provide the information regarding nutrition and allergies after the purchase of these items on the item’s packaging,” Erwin reveals. “However for non pre-packed foods and drinks, such as hot chocolate and coffee it has been required since 2014 to display this information on the machine.”
Today the EVA continues to serve its membership and the wider needs of the vending industry within Europe. During November 2015 the association hosted its first European Vending Experience (EVEX), in association with the Spanish vending association (ANEDA). The event was held in Malaga, Spain and included seminars, workshops and networking opportunities to operators and supporters at every level of the vending industry. The event also hosted two keynote speakers who discussed important trends within the vending industry, including the further development of healthy options in vending machines and the need for technological innovation to deliver a positive and meaningful experience to customers.
To help spearhead the further introduction of a healthy choice of food products within vending machines the EVA is a member of the EU Platform for Diet, Nutrition and Physical Activity, which was established by the European Commission. One of the commitments promoted by the EVA via this platform is the FeelGood project that is currently in operation within France. “The FeelGood logo is now used on over 4000 machines throughout France. It is a special label that has been approved by the French Ministry of Health as well as nutritional bodies and is designed to give an indication that the machine contains healthier food options,” Erwin explains. “To be awarded this label, the machine must contain products from five categories compromised of water, cereals, dairy products, fruits and vegetables. This is a project that we support at the local level and we would like to see it take off in other countries.”
During 2016 and beyond the EVA will continue to support its members as the vending industry continues to evolve and address new challenges and opportunities. During November 2016 the association will host its second EVEX event in France, where members and supporting partners will be able to discuss important developments including the ongoing delivery of healthy food options and the upcoming EU ban on fluorinated greenhouse gases (F gases) in new equipment like refrigeration systems of chilled vending machines. The ban on F gases is due to come into effect during 2022 and represents one of the many areas in which the EVA will assist its members over the coming years.