Healthy vending ideas

The foods and drinks you can offer in vending machines depend on a number of factors, including product turnover and preferences of consumers, shelf life, style of the machine and whether or not refrigeration is available.

It is a good idea to survey the people who will use the machine to get an idea of their food and drink preferences and products that are likely to sell.

The tables below outline common foods and drinks for vending machines that are in the GREEN (best choices) or AMBER (choose carefully) Healthy Choices category. In some cases, you will need to use the Healthy choices: food and drink classification guide to help you decide if products are GREEN or AMBER and to ensure that items are not in the RED (limit) category.

GREEN – best choices  AMBER – choose carefully  GREEN or AMBER options*
Non-refrigerated foods    
  • Plain nuts
  • Plain, air-popped popcorn
  • Fruit tubs in natural juice
  • Porridge or oats
  • High fibre cereals that are low in sugar
  • Plain rice cakes or corn cakes
  • Dried fruit
  • Some fruit- or vegetable-based wholemeal muffins*
  • Some plain sweet biscuits*
  • Some cereal-based, fruit-filled or fruit and nut bars*
  • Some instant noodles*
  • Some crispbreads or crackers, rice or corn cakes
  • Trail mixes
  • Tuna and cracker snacks
  • Tuna and rice or beans
  • Packaged soups
Refrigerated foods    
  • Reduced fat yoghurt
  • Fresh fruit, fruit salad or sliced fruit
  • Reduced fat cheese and wholemeal crackers
  • Reduced fat dip with wholemeal crackers
  • Regular fat yoghurt
  • Regular fat cheese and crackers
  • Low- or reduced-fat dairy desserts
  • Salads
  • Heat and serve ready-to-eat meals
  • Sandwiches, rolls or wraps
  • Nori rolls
Cold drinks    
  • Plain water (including sparkling or mineral)
  • Soda water
  • Reduced-fat plain milk 
  • Plain milk alternatives (e.g. soy or rice drink)
  • Some reduced-fat flavoured milk*
  • Pure fruit juice with a maximum serve size of 250ml
  • Regular fat plain milk
  • Some regular fat flavoured milk*
  • Artificially sweetened drinks

Use the Healthy Choices: food and drink classification guide to determine classification 


Practical ways to replace RED options

Some practical ways of removing RED items are:

  • Replace regular high sugar drinks with ‘diet’ or reduced sugar varieties,
  • Replace large flavoured milks with smaller options (1600kj or less per serve as sold)
  • Replace sugar sweetened fruit drinks with 99% fruit juice, 250ml or less)
  • Replace large juices with  varieties that are 250ml or less)
  • Replace chips/crisps with plain or lightly salted wholegrain rice crackers or popcorn
  • Replace chocolate bars with snack bars, (600kj or less, 3g saturated fat or less and 1g or more of fibre)
  • Increase the number of spaces GREEN choices occupy and reduce the amount of spaces that RED items occupy (e.g. if offering a chocolate bar, ensure that it only occupies one space in the machine)


Tips for hot drink vending machines 

If your organisation has a hot drink vending machine (e.g. for coffee and hot chocolate), use these tips to make healthier options available.

  • use reduced fat milk as the default choice
  • ensure that a milk or milk powder is being used, and not a beverage whitener
  • offer artificial sweetener as an alternative to sugar
  • offer small cup sizes as the default option.