Louis Fraysse believes that fast food can be healthy, even when it comes out of a vending machine.
Fraysse started his business, Nature's Fridge, to supply refrigerated vending machines full of salads, smoothies, chia bowls and other high-nutrition foods across Auckland.
After moving here from France over a decade ago, Fraysse managed two cafe's on Auckland's North Shore.
He noticed customers sought fresh and healthy food for on-the-go, so he developed the idea of turning a cafe display cabinet into a vending machine.
The idea turns a cafe display cabinet on its side, he said, with the same healthy food, ingredients and information as the meals.
When Fraysse saw fresh produce in vending machines was successful in the US, he decided to pursue his idea in New Zealand.
Fraysse spent years developing the food production system that now runs like clockwork.
Orders are placed the day before, and prep is done in the afternoon. The next morning, the team arrives at the kitchen at 4 am to plate the meals in clear, plastic mason jars. From there, they stock the vending machines with fresh products before lunch.
Freshness is essential to the business model, said Fraysse. If people buy a salad for lunch, it will have been in the vending machine for two hours.
The longest a meal will be in the vending machine is 25 hours.
The goal is to create a circular business model, said Fraysse. He partnered with Fair Food NZ to distribute any uneaten food to Auckland's homeless.
The jars are also 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 the most recent level 4 lockdown, Fraysse placed a trial machine at the University of Auckland and was pleasantly surprised by its popularity.
The machine was sold out within three hours every day.
However, COVID knocked his plans down, and Fraysse will have to wait to expand his business. Within a year, Fraysse hopes to set up 50 machines in Auckland.