Building the break room of the future with Canteen
Ah, the break room. It’s the oasis where thoughts are gathered, thirst is slaked, snacks are grabbed, and where the workday’s frenetic pace comes to a halt — if only for a few blessed minutes. As unique as the space it occupies, the break room can be a jolt to the senses, a jewel in the crown, and everything in between.
For Canteen, North America’s largest vending, micro-market, and office pantry services company, respite areas represent the chance to connect with consumers in innovative, satisfying ways. Established in 1929 as the Canteen Vending Company, today the firm has 200 corporate and franchise locations in 48 states.
“We provide food and beverage where people need it most: where it's convenient for them. At the workplace, at hotels, hospitals, we try to be everywhere people are who could use a break,” explained Canteen’s Director of Innovation, Jessi Moffitt. “Snacking has become something that everyone does multiple times a day. We've seen many studies showing that regular people snack up to three times a day, so the opportunity is for us to be there for them when the time is right.”
These days, vending is only one area of expertise for the Charlotte, NC–based firm; in addition, it offers micro-market, office coffee, and dining services suited for virtually any space where people take a moment to recharge. For example, the company’s Avenue C self-checkout micro-market offering provides hundreds of fresh products in a fully customizable retail space; the Smart Market secure, self-checkout vending market equipped with infrared devices and thumbprint scanners is a safe alternative for grab-and-go areas in public spaces of every kind.
“Our vending technology has changed,” Moffitt added. “We have cashless machines. You can use your credit card, you can use mobile pay, you don't have to have pocket change anymore. On the micro-market side, we have a really robust kiosk platform that we’re able to have customers scan out their products on site. We definitely are more mobile-friendly, more user-friendly, and that puts us in a lot more places than we've ever been before. It's innovation at its best.”
The demand for a variety of options that meet changing consumer preferences is driving the snacking sector of the food and beverage industry in new and refreshing directions, and Canteen is leading that charge. Those demands include clean label, better for you, and other healthy options. “Fresh food is one of the top movers in our office pantry space. People are looking for that really tasty and healthy item.
“We've also seen product categories change. We're offering things today that we probably never would have even envisioned offering, such as cold brew coffee on tap, which we offer in many locations.”
Social Flavor: Tastes and Trends
Canteen’s office pantry offerings allow employers to offer subsidized food and beverages to their workers. “We curate offerings that support the business goals of whomever our client might be, and how it suits the general population. We know what people like to eat, we know how to set it up and make it look great and appealing for folks,” Moffitt noted.
“We’re logistics experts, so we come in and make sure that the pantry is stocked and safe for them to come in and eat. It's a really great perk for companies to offer and it's a lot of fun to collaborate with them and build a custom solution. Nothing we do in the pantry space is cookie-cutter. It's all very customized and a truly fun challenge.”
Canteen’s pantry approach isn’t just a great way to connect with customers, it’s an opportunity to better understand their snacking choices to stay on the cutting edge of consumer preference.
“We definitely see a lot more people focus on specific diets, such as the ketogenic diet, paleo-inspired diet. We're seeing a lot more of those types of products in the market and the demand for those has gone up,” she revealed.
“We also see some lasting trends, like gluten-free, more plant-forward items, vegan and vegetarian, we're seeing a lot more innovative products in that space. People are really trying to hone in on a specific way of eating that suits them and makes their body feel the best, so a lot comes down to labeling and making sure that products are called out for the different characteristics that they have. We work closely with our manufacturing partners to make sure that we're bringing in the latest and greatest products, and they tend to be clean label, fewer ingredients, and more whole ingredients. Overall, it makes snacking a lot more satisfying.”
Satisfaction is a big theme at Canteen, evident in their people-first culture. “It’s a really nice place from the top down, and there’s a deep level of care and concern for everyone. At Canteen, you have the ability to be yourself and bring your special talents to the table. It's definitely special. …
“We advocate for the break room. When you're able to have that tiny little space in your day where you can take a break, and if you choose to enjoy food or beverage along with that, we want to be part of it,” she admitted. “We want to be that bright spot in your day.”
Canteen is in the business of ensuring its guests get just what they want, just when they need it. It provides national vending, market, café, coffee and more solutions in offices, manufacturing plants, airports, hospitals, university settings, and anywhere in between. It’s more than snacks, drinks and fresh food. Canteen provides the fuel that keeps people going when they’ve had a long day. We love helping people connect.
Canteen 2400 Yorkmont Rd.
Charlotte, NC 28217