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Auckland-based entrepreneur reinvents the vending machine business

Say hello to Nature’s Fridge, the newest innovator to the vending machine market, making real, healthy, and fresh food accessible and affordable to the health-conscious consumer. 

Nature’s Fridge is the first of its kind in New Zealand to offer fresh food from a vending machine. The company launched its first machine at Auckland University shortly before lockdown restrictions and hosted a one-off pop-up machine in Freemans Bay earlier this month. 

Founded by Louis Fraysse, Nature’s Fridge is an agile team of fresh food enthusiasts passionate about making fresh and wholesome food as convenient as possible. The company works closely with nutritionists, chefs, and local producers to create seasonal meals that are not only healthy but delicious. 

Louis Fraysse, Nature’s Fridge founder

The Idea

Originally from France, the last decade has seen Fraysse reside in New Zealand and own two wholefood cafes on the North Shore. 

After noticing customers wanted fresh and healthy food that could be bought on the go, Fraysse developed the idea of turning a cafe’s display cabinet into a vending machine.

“I thought a fridge, essentially, could be a good idea.”

“There’s a company in Chicago which has been very successful in doing this, so I decided to do something similar. I was completing an MBA (Master of Business Administration) at the time at Massey University, so I did my thesis project on whether a healthy vending machine could be successful in New Zealand.”

After receiving positive feedback from his surveys, Fraysse decided to take a leap of faith and launch Nature’s Fridge. 

The Food

Nature’s Fridge kiosks are equipped with a mammoth touch screen so customers can see all of their options. All the ingredients are listed next to each item, along with the nutritional information and allergens. With food safety, a top priority, Nature’s fridge has a short production and delivery channel that always maintains the cold chain.

Boasting a scrumptious selection of nutritious salads, chia pods, raw slices, granola, and plenty more healthy items, there truly is an option for anyone on the go. 

“We order the day before and prep in the afternoon. In the morning we get up early, serve the meals in clear plastic mason jars, and from there, we drive out to our vending machines.

“We have the vending machines stocked full of fresh items before lunchtime, and the longest a meal will be in the vending machine is 25 hours.”

Circular Business Model

One of Fraysse’s primary goals is to create a circular business model. To achieve this, he has partnered with Fair Food NZ to distribute any uneaten food to homeless people in Auckland. On top of this, the jars used to hold the food are all reusable. Each meal is in a high-quality PET plastic mason jar, which customers can return at collection points beside each vending machine.

Two weeks before New Zealand entered Level 4 lockdown, Fraysse placed a trial machine at the University of Auckland and was pleasantly surprised by the response from customers. He says the machine was sold out within three hours every day.

Currently, Nature’s Fridge has five vending machine prototypes it is trialing across Auckland, with more on the cards. 

“We want to see if the concept works, and five machines is enough to do that. So far, the feedback and the revenue have been fantastic. If it keeps going well, we’d eventually like to have 50 across the city.”

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