We have some pretty wild vending machines here in the United States. But we’ve got nothing on France, which recently added a new interesting item to their ranks of foods being sold by robots in public: oysters. French oyster farmer Tony Berthelot of Ile de Re, an island off the Atlantic coast, is one of the progenitors of the oyster vending machine.
“We felt as though we were losing lots of sales when we are closed,” said Berthelot, who’s been farming oysters with his wife Brigitte for 30 years.
“There was a cost involved when buying this machine, of course, but we’re paying it back in installments … And today, in theory, we can say that the calculations are correct and it’s working.
Now, customers can buy a dozen of his mollusks via vending machine for €6.90 (about $8.19) at any time of day. Each batch sits in a separate, refrigerated (thankfully) compartment. The outside of the machine is glass so customers can see what they’re purchasing.
Other oyster farmers have taken notice of the trend and followed suit.
Berthelot might have taken his cue from more traditional farmers in France, who are known to sell products like cheese and eggs in roadside machines.
In February 2016, a butcher shop in Paris set up a 24-hour raw meat vending machine and cited a similar line of thinking.
“We wanted to give our customers an additional service when the shop is closed,” said Florence Pouzol, owner of Paris butcher shop L’Ami Txulette.
So far the possibility of a broken refrigerating system has yet to rear its ugly head.
“We can come at midnight if we want, if we have a craving for oysters. It’s excellent; they’re really fresh,” Christel Petinon, a brave oyster vending machine customer, told Reuters.
The first ever oyster-selling machine we can track down debuted in 2010 on the island of Oléron.