Food enthusiasts in France are celebrating the arrival of 24-hour cheese dispensers that have started popping up around the country. These vending machines are now available in various locations such as train stations, village squares, and motorway service stops, allowing people to satisfy their cheese cravings at any time of the day or night.

The refrigerated dispensers are stocked with a variety of ‘artisanal fromage’, preventing the strong smell of many cheeses from spreading to the surrounding area. This initiative comes as producers of protected regional cheese types seek new ways to make their products more accessible to consumers.

These machines have been welcomed not only by cheese lovers but also by farm cooperatives and small producers who have come together to fund these costly machines. The introduction of cheese dispensers follows a trend of automatic food dispensers in France, including those selling pizzas, oysters, mussels, charcuterie, eggs, butter, and even fresh bread, typically featuring baguettes.

Given that France is home to a wide variety of popular cheeses like camembert, roquefort, and reblochon, the addition of cheese vending machines was a natural progression. During the pandemic, these dispensers gained popularity as customers could conveniently serve themselves without the need to enter crowded shops or wear masks.

Local officials are now encouraging the use of these dispensers to promote high-quality local produce, particularly in rural areas where the closure of local stores has forced residents to travel longer distances for shopping. One of the first shops to install a cheese dispenser, the Coopérative de Doubs, offers a selection of cheeses ranging from comté to morbier for those looking to create a perfect last-minute cheeseboard.

Fabien Picard, the head of La fromager dairy, shared that customers can easily select their desired cheese, make a payment using a bank card, and collect their purchase from the refrigerated dispenser. These machines have been a pleasant surprise for customers in various regions, including Ain, where cheeses like tomme du Jura and comté are available, as well as Varaville in Normandy, offering camembert and liverot, and the high Alps of Haute-Savoie with reblochon, tomme, and raclette.

Mathieu Goguet, a manager at La Boîte ô Fromages in Calvados, mentioned that their firm started offering home deliveries during the pandemic, realizing that customers preferred the convenience of stopping by a cheese dispenser rather than traveling long distances to a physical store. The availability of 24-hour cheese dispensers has not only made artisanal cheeses more accessible but has also added a touch of innovation to the traditional cheese-buying experience in France.