Manufacturing up to 6,000 drinks vending machines and approximately one billion drinks every year, Mars Drinks is one of the leading players in the UK vending sector. EatSleepDrink Magazine speaks to Mars Drinks to find out more about the company’s innovative and uniquely sustainable approach to the vending market.
As consumer tastes become ever-more demanding and refined, the demand for specialised vending machines in the workplace increases. Indeed, to ensure that operators get the maximum return on their investment they need to be able to meet or exceed the demands of consumers. Therefore, choosing providers that stock and supply well-known, popular brands is a sure way to ensure that the full range of drinks and snacks is enjoyed.
Mars Drinks quickly understood that its customers value having a single point of contact for its KLIX vending machines. In partnership with Coca Cola Enterprises and Mars Inc., the company is able to provide a fully-managed service to meet all of its customers’ drink and snack requirements. This fully-managed service brings together best-of-breed vending snacks, cans and drinks vending, as well as providing a single point of contact for all queries and support. This means that everything from menu management to service and maintenance can be arranged quickly and simply, offering tangible benefits to operators and end-users alike.
Reliability, efficiency, quality, sustainability
Central to the Mars Drinks approach is the philosophy that, no matter how much consumer tastes change and develop, there are a number of factors that remain essential to vending. Indeed, at the core of the company’s philosophy one finds good service and face-to-face management; reliable and efficient vending machines; as well as providing a stock of quality, trusted and popular brands. Because vending machines are a quick and efficient way of providing refreshments to consumers, it’s important that the management of the vending machines is also as hassle-free as possible.
On a different note, environmental awareness and sustainability are terms the majority of businesses are well-acquainted with in the UK, particularly in the food, drink and hospitality industries. As one of the UK’s leading vending machine manufacturers, it should come as no surprise to learn that Mars Drinks has taken numerous steps in recent times to ensure that its approach to sustainability is second-to-none. Measuring the impact of catering activities from an environmental perspective presents a challenge both to caterers and to their suppliers, the company notes. Indeed, most businesses are looking, to some degree, at their overall impact on the environment, in order to meet environmental targets or achieve sustainable accreditations.
However, there is a need to move towards more in-depth analysis that traces a product’s journey from the start to the end of its life in order to understand how real change for the better can be made. For the catering sector, asking suppliers if they have in-depth research about their products’ carbon footprint can give a good indication of how sustainable their products are – and the subsequent impact that will have on the environment.
Growth through sustainable innovation
For instance, taking a cup of coffee as an example, it is easy to work out the amount of energy used to boil a kettle or brew a drink using a coffee machine – but how easy is it to work out the carbon dioxide emissions produced from growing and processing the beans for that cup of coffee? In response to this, Mars Drinks established its ‘Thirsty for Change’ programme in order to help its customers reduce the impact they have on the environment. As a key part of this process, it was determined that, in order to discover the true environmental impact of the products, it was necessary to conduct a full Life Cycle Assessment (LCA), as Mars Drinks readily clarify.
As one can imagine, the LCA process requires highly specialised skills. Therefore, to assist in the process, Mars Drinks were fortunate to have an experienced partner – WSP Environment & Energy, part of the WSP Group. As a global business providing advice on all aspects of environmental and sustainable practices, WSP were perfectly placed to help the company achieve its goals. Indeed, thanks to WSP’s excellent advice, Mars Drinks introduced Energy Calculators on its website (http://www.marsdrinks.co.uk/).
This kind of innovative approach to sustainability enables all of Mars Drinks’ KLIX customers to estimate how much energy they are saving/using when switching to the company’s new equipment, as well as allowing its customers to work out potential energy and cost savings compared to alternative hot drinks solutions. Because catering is an energy intensive sector, examining the carbon footprint of its business practices and products, has given Mars Drinks meaningful goals and objectives, based on sound research. As the company eagerly affirms on its website: “By selecting business partners who are actively engaging with ways to reduce energy use, CO2 emissions and water requirements, we can help create best-business practice for a sustainable future”.
To further emphasise the success of Mars Drinks’ sustainable approach to the vending machine sector, one only need look at the company’s work for United Business Centres (UBC) at the end of last year. Following a detailed review, Mars Drinks secured the vending contract to deliver state-of-the-art vending to all 14 of UBC’s serviced office portfolio. In December 2010, the company began the installation of 14 of its KLIX OUTLOOK drinks vending machines at UBC sites across the UK. These installations were completed successfully in January of this year, enabling users at UBC to enjoy a wide range of the nation’s favourite drinks, including Nescafé, PG Tips and Cafédirect.
Indeed, as Mr John Bryce, Director of UBC, noted: “Changing our vending supplier to Mars Drinks is just one example of how they have achieved a solution that not only significantly reduces our business overheads, but ensures we still maintain quality and a high level of service to our serviced office clients”. Moving its vending contract to Mars Drinks enabled UBC to achieve a £72,000 reduction in costs per annum. Given the company’s cutting-edge approach to sustainability and portfolio of energy efficient machines, UBC will also see its overall energy consumption reduced by as much as 40 percent.
“Using its industry leading in-cup technology, KLIX offered UBC a reliable, easy to use drinks vending machine solution across its multiple sites,” Mr. Anthony Maxwell, Business Development Manager at Mars Drinks, affirms. “With KLIX, the ingredients are pre-determined in the cup – the machine simply adds Brita filtered water heated to the perfect temperature. The in-cup technology ensures a consistent quality of drinks, every time. Our technology is the most reliable system available and is the system pioneered and employed by KLIX.
“The aim of the project was to deliver a reliable, simple and great tasting selection of hot and cold drinks for service users,” Mr. Maxwell continues. “We’re delighted to have been able to help UBC achieve their cost efficiencies while guaranteeing a high quality solution across all of its centres”.
Looking to the future
As part of one of the world’s largest family-owned businesses, Mars Drinks have been refreshing people at work for more than 30 years. Already trusted by over 35,000 businesses, the company serves more than a billion quality drinks every year to the most demanding business world-wide. Indeed, given the company’s portfolio of well-loved and trusted brands – Maltesers, Snickers, Mars M&M’s, Starburst and Twix – across its vending machines, it should come as no surprise that Mars Drinks is bullish about its future prospects in the industry.
Added to the company’s plethora of universally recognised brands is its forward-thinking, sustainable approach to business – something that will ensure the growth of Mars Drinks for a long time to come. As the company was keen to conclude, “The consumer is our boss, quality is our work and value for money is our goal. Quality was, and still is, the foundation of our success. Today, our goal is quality in everything we set out to achieve, the products we make, the services we provide and the people who make up the Mars Drinks team.”
Indeed, this approach to sustainable quality allows the company to transcend strictly commercial targets, while providing genuinely positive solutions to its customers across the UK.