When we feed coins into a vending machine, we expect little more than a soggy sandwich or tired chocolate bar in return.
But imagine if it could serve up a plate of steaming lasagne, a glass of freshly squeezed fruit juice or a gourmet salad made that very morning.
Such an appetising idea could soon be a reality, according to Dr Morgaine Gaye, whose job as a food futurologist entails looking at how eating trends develop.
In countries such as Japan and the US, buying freshly made hot and cold food from vending machines is already part of everyday life – and Dr Gaye insists the UK will soon follow suit.
She said we are moving away from three meals a day towards snacking more and eating on the go, which will increase demand for vending machines and change what we want to be able to buy from them. ‘We are going to start seeing hot-snack vending being much more available,’ she said.
‘There are some brilliant ideas around the world. Vending is really going to come into the UK in a big way.’