Size of opportunity unknown
Though the school market shows every sign of growing, Tony Freytag, national marketing director for Cashmere, Wash.-based Crunch Pak, and chairman of the United Fresh fresh-cut board, said there is no definitive idea of how big the school market is right now for fresh produce suppliers.
Movement in general is up, but it is hard to say how much is attributable to schools, he said.
“If you are talking retail, you can go to (data provider Nielsen Perishables) and see what is happening, but when you talking about (school) foodservice there is no measurement,” he said.
“I have to believe there is a movement increase because of the schools,” he said.
Freytag said that Crunch Pak is getting a lot of calls from companies who service vending machines because those companies are looking for options to replace less healthful products that the vendors can no longer stock.
“Now they have this investment in the vending machine and some of their revenue generators are gone,” he said.
Crunch Pak plans to have representatives at the National Automated Merchandising Association annual conference so they can see what equipment can support fresh-cut apples.
The great thing about school vending machines is that they typically are serviced daily, which limits potential losses.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity in the coming years, and it is on our radar screen big time,” he said.