‘I don’t believe in doing thing by halves’, says Matt Haselden when I tell him that his new range of Batchelor’s Soups has been the subject of conversation chez Automatic Retailing and Westomatic. I feel as though I know all about this tasty new vending product before I arrive on the Vision Ingredients stand.
It’s not long since I was laughing with a vending machine manufacturer and remembering how, back in the day, people actually drank soup that came from a vending machine. As Bob Monkhouse once famously said: ‘they’re not laughing now’.
Soup is very definitely back on the vending menu and extra canisters are finding their away into vending machines to accommodate it.
‘I’d love to claim that I’m a genius, but all we’ve done is agglomerated powder’, Matt says. ‘Traditionally, vending soup was a very dense powder, which meant it was very difficult to get it out of the canister – it used to harden up – and it was difficult for the water to mix it. That tended to mean there was always a sludge at the bottom of the cup. So what we’ve done is agglomerated it and by doing that, we’ve created space for the water to penetrate and for it to dissolve. It satisfies the desire of the powder to soak water in from the atmosphere; it satisfies the hydroscopic nature of the powder, so it won’t go hard in the canister in the same way, meaning it flows and dispenses properly.’
That’s bigger words than I’ve ever heard uttered at a vending event before, right there.
‘In the product itself there’s potato starch, so even though it dispenses as a runny liquid, once it’s in the cup and the temperature comes down slightly, the product thickens, becomes much more viscous and creates a really hearty soup. I’d love to say we’ve done something amazing but the actual process of agglomeration has solved a lot of the problems we used to have.
‘Because it’s a retail product, we’ve carried across the Traffic Light system. We’ve got green lights everywhere except on salt, where it just tips into amber.’
It’s a good point: traditional vending soups would have had more red lights than Amsterdam. What’s more, it qualifies as a low calorie product. All three flavours come in at less that 100 per serving. All of which makes it an NHS CQUIN product and these days, that’s a Big Box to tick.
Vision Ingredients is not just a Batchelor’s Soups story – far from it. Having already been taste tested by Andrea Goswell on the Westomatic Stand, I know Matt and his colleagues have a vision for milk and others things, too…
Vision has struck a deal with Premier Foods, who have undertaken to manufacture Vision’s growing range of dedicated vending products. ‘Apart from the milk there’s a lot of NPD going on’, Matt says, including a zero calorie sugar replacement product made from Stevia. It doesn’t just mean a kinder cup of coffee either: the team are working on creating a zero calories hot-chocolate drink, too…
As pretty much everybody in the business knows, Matt and his business partner Hugh Millson have forgotten more about vending than most of us will ever know and every development, every product they’re bringing to market is coming from the angle of ‘what will make a vending operator’s life easier and more profitable?’
One to watch? Vision Ingredients. In many ways, they were the stars of Vendex North. In an industry that’s been dominated by coffee in recent years; who’d have thought that the real buzz at Old Trafford would be about soup?
* Vision Ingredient’s Batchelor’s Soups are available in Chicken, Tomato and Vegetable varieties and they come in outers of 6 x 750gm, from Automatic Retailing.