In a world wrapped up in complex supply chains, small farmers are in a catch-22: sell to the supermarkets and get less cash for your carrots, or spend a lot more time and effort trying to sell directly to customers. Consumers, meanwhile, are torn between loyalty to local businesses and the convenience of those established supply chains. Now a German farm, Peter-und-Paul-Hof, has found a solution in the form of… vending machines. The result of a collaboration between the farm and vending manufacturer Stuewer, the specially designed Regiomat machines currently sell fresh milk, eggs, butter, cheese, potatoes and sausage in thirteen German towns and communities.
It’s not a solution that sprung up overnight. Initially, Peter-und-Paul-Hof were operating a service delivering milk to their customers. Finding this too time-consuming, they began encouraging customers to collect the milk from fridges on their farm, which proved successful and inspired them to use vending machines as a more versatile solution. The Regiomat machines can be placed outdoors 365 days a year as long as they’re under a roof (some have even been placed alongside hiking trails in Switzerland), effectively giving locals a 24-hour farmers’ market and farmers a lot more free time. By cutting out the middleman, this system also offers potential savings over retail stores. An update to the traditional farm stand that is beneficial to both farmers and local-loving consumers, this is definitely a concept we can see spreading to other parts of the world. (Related: Vending machines for healthy food.)