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The Chicago Sun-Times reports on last week’s National Automatic Merchandising Association Expo, and points to a number of innovations that were on display:

• A South Beach Diet vending machine from Kraft that is “stocked with only those Kraft foods that are compliant with the diet program, including Planters nuts, Breakstone's low-fat cottage cheese, Crystal Light drinks, Jell-O sugar-free gelatin snacks, Nabisco Wheat Thins and the new South Beach Diet lunch wraps.” Other themed vending machine concepts – such as around healthy kids snacks – also seem to be becoming more popular.

• Vending machines that dispense both chilled and frozen items, such as garden salads and ice cream sandwiches.

• Machines that accept both credit and debit cards for payment also seem to be on the rise, according to the story.
KC's View:
The vending machine companies ought to make a deal with a company like Pay By Touch to allow people to purchase products via biometrics. I can’t tell you how many times I’m in a hotel, am dying for a Diet Coke or Diet Pepsi, but I don't have change or even small bills. But I always have my fingers…