First there was the vending machine, then there was the ATM, then there was the condom dispenser. Now, get ready for the pizza machine.
The first pizza vending machine was installed last week in the Visa-CAL building in Givatayim, near Tel Aviv. The cost of a machine pizza is about 30 percent lower than a store-bought equivalent.
How does it work? Every day the machine is filled with several dozen family-size frozen pizzas, 35 centimeters in diameter (13.8 inches). Customers pay with a swipe of the credit card, and can choose plain pizza (NIS 25, USD 5.30) or olive topping (NIS 27, USD 5.70).
'A far cry from Japan'
Once the transaction is approved, the machine springs into action. The pizza drops to a heating element inside the machine; some three minutes later, out it comes, piping hot and all boxed up, "just like from the shop."
"We will install more 'pizzomats'," says Ronen Stern, marketing director for Avigay-li, the company that owns the machines. He says the machines will eventually offer hungry customers the option of choosing mushroom and onion toppings.
There are about 25,000 vending machines in Israel, selling everything from French fries to alcoholic cocktails to more traditional candy bars and soft drinks – an average of one machine for every 200 Israelis.
That's a lot, but it’s a far cry from Japan, the world leader in automated machines. There the average is one machine per 20 people, selling everything from books and umbrellas to flowers and inflated balloons.