On 12 April, the Austrian Vending Association (OVV) held its Annual General Assembly Meeting in Salzburg, with a record-breaking attendance of 125 participants.

The meeting was a poignant moment for long-serving board members Rudolf Pöllabauer and August Hollbuchner, who were officially bid farewell after more than 15 years of dedicated service. The emotional highlight was the presentation of a basket full of gifts to both members, in recognition of their commitment and contributions to the OVV.

In terms of leadership, the assembly saw the re-election of Peter Schmidt as President, a role he has held since 2010. Joining him on the board are Klaus Irmler of EVOCA as Vice-President, and Stefan Sturmer of StHG as Treasurer. During the meeting, President Schmidt reviewed the activities of the past year, emphasising several lobbying successes achieved under his guidance.

A pressing issue addressed during the assembly was the new deposit return scheme in Austria, which imposes stringent requirements on vending operators. Unlike the more flexible model in Germany, Austrian operators must now manage the deposit return directly, find a nearby retailer to facilitate returns, or pay a fee as compensation if neither option is viable. This change has sparked considerable concern among operators about an increased operational burden.

The day prior to the general assembly, the OVV Board held a strategic discussion with about 30 members to ponder the future direction of the industry and the association. A key topic was whether the OVV should broaden its membership to include companies that offer innovative vending solutions like vending containers or smart fridges. The debate brought forth diverse opinions, with EVA Director General Erwin Wetzel providing valuable insights from a European perspective.

The Annual General Assembly of the OVV not only addressed the immediate challenges facing the vending industry but also set the stage for its future development in an increasingly complex regulatory and technological landscape.