Sheffield firm "reinvents fast food" with the country's first vending machine selling healthy fresh meals

A Sheffield food company is “reinventing fast food” after launching the country’s first vending machines selling fresh and healthy meals.

By Ellen Beardmore
Wednesday, 17 July, 2019, 15:32
New healthy food vending machines have been launched by Shed, with the first at Ponds Forge International Sports Centre. Pictured from left, Charlotte Grainger, Joe Hewett-Hobson, Carl Sooki, Gian Bohan Picture by Steve Ellis

Shed, which started life as a pop up food trader in the city centre before taking a kitchen at Cutlery Works food hall in Kelham Island, has now launched hi-tech vending machines to sell its healthy, plant-focused products, ranging from wraps and salad bowls to breakfast and snacks. The first machine is now in place at Ponds Forge international sports centr.

The business was set up to help people lead healthier lifestyles and the new focus on vending machines aims to make balanced dishes easier to access.

Gian Bohan, one of the four Shed co-owners, said the project had taken 18 months of research, and was inspired by vending technology available in America.

Some of the fresh meals made by Shed for the machine, which are kept at the right temperature and replaced when needed

Freshly prepared meals made in a central kitchen will be placed in the machines – which are cooled to the correct temperatures - and replaced daily.

The technology means meals which need to be eaten can be discounted on a ‘happy hour’ concept to reduce wastage, and any surplus food will hopefully go to a local project too. Diners can easily see nutritional, ingredient or allergen information on the machine screens.

Gian said: “We’ve been in the food business a long time and we know how to make healthy food tasty. Some people have asked ‘won’t you have to replace the food every day?’ but that’s just like running any restaurant.

“Because we want to try and impact as many lives as possible there is a salmon dish in there and a chicken dish, 90 per cent of our meals are plant strong.”

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Carl Sooki takes one of the 200 products from the pioneering machine

A second vending machine is being placed in a Sheffield workplace, Westfield House, with one future aim of Shed to reach more workplaces where people may struggle to access healthy food.

An agreement with the city's Royal Hallamshire and Northern General hospitals is also said to be close, and the former Shed kitchen at Cutlery Works will also be replaced with a machine.

Each can hold up to 200 products, is cashless and even has a cutlery station.

Gian said there were some healthier vending machines in the UK, but they sold third party snack products rather than fresh meals.

Gian, who owns Shed with colleagues Carl Sooki, Joe Hewett-Hobson and Charlotte Grainger, added: “We want to reinvent fast food - the starting point of a healthy lifestyle is what you eat.”

Plans to further develop the concept, with developments including an app, are also in the pipeline for the future.

To sign up to the Shed database for offers and information, visit www.eatshed.com.