The big push for vending machines to sell healthier snacks has overlooked something: It isn't easy for a machine to deliver an unbruised banana.
The Wittern Group Inc., one of the biggest makers of vending machines, and fruit and vegetable marketer Fresh Del Monte Produce Inc. say they are tackling this problem with a new machine specifically designed to dispense whole bananas and fresh-cut fruits and vegetables.
At Wittern's headquarters in a suburb of Des Moines, refrigeration engineer Jerry Parle shows off the new device, its red and orange exterior festooned with Del Monte logos and pictures of whole pineapples and other fruit. The machine—which went on the market earlier this year—has two temperature zones. The top is loaded with bananas kept at about 57 degrees. The bottom zone—kept at about 34 degrees—holds packages of fresh-cut fruit and vegetables. Wittern says having the two zones helps more than double the shelf-life of bananas, from two or three days to five days or a week.