Nairobi has a new type of vending machine - these ones distribute milk, so much so Erick Andino, a shop owner, has stoped selling package milk and has switched to selling milk from a vending machine.
Shopkeepers prefer them because they are easy to use, maintain and uses low power.
The emergence of ATMs is also helping farmers improve their profits.The milk is delivered to the milk ATMs where the retailers sell the milk to buyers.
When a customer arrives at the shop, the owner just keys in the amount that the buyer wants and the ATM automatically dispenses the milk.
"The advantages of this ATM machine is; one it is easy to maintain and it is very fast to serve customers and thirdly when you store milk behind it, it is ever (always) fresh so that the customer can drink directly. It comes from the farm and if it is the amount you can measure from as low as 10 shillings ($0.10)." explained Erick.
People prefer products from the ATM machines simply because they are cheaper. Sophia Ali has been using milk from these machines for over two years.
"The milk from the ATM is very reliable because one litre of milk from the ATM is Ksh 60($0.60) compared with milk from the shop which is Ksh 55 ($0.55) which is 500ml which per litre is Ksh120 ($1.20) so it is more cheaper and when you cook tea with this milk from the ATM is actually the best because it has no preservatives it has no additives, it has nothing even it is not diluted. So you can make even more tea with that one litre of milk which is Ksh 60 ($0.60) compared with the milk from the shop which is Ksh120 ($1.20)."
The milk ATMs could pose a health risk, since the hygienic conditions of the containers in which it is collected, transported and sold don't necessarily meet the standards laid out by the Kenya Dairy Board act.
Despite the convenience provided by the ATMs for farmers, shopkeepers and customers, food safety needs to be observed, cautions Martin Njagi, quality assurance officer, Limuru Dairy farmers cooperative society:
"Now, you find that many of the farmers, especially here in Kenya, they have not yet adopted the food-grade materials so they end up using the plastic handling containers that are not hygienic at all and you cannot be able to guarantee their hygiene because one thing you cannot be able to clean them sufficiently, using even hot water and even other detergents."
Automated Vending Machines are popping up all over Kenya.The ATMs sell a variety of products from milk to cooking oil to water.