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Hungry Germans craving a sausage in the dead of night are increasingly turning to vending machines for their bratwurst, bockwurst, and barbecue meats.

The machines are “booming” outside German cities where shops are less likely to stay open for long hours, according to a survey by the German Press Agency.

“Especially in structurally weak, rural areas, vending machine solutions are becoming increasingly popular,” says Heike Richter, an industry spokesperson.

“There is a strong development towards the vending machine, which is used to deliver meat, milk, eggs and other products to customers outside of core opening times.”

Some butchers’ vending machines sell three or four types of sausages, and punnets of accompanying potato salad – so customers can buy all they need for a traditional hearty German feast.

Others stock eggs, milk, butter, and fruit and vegetables – so all the kitchen essentials are available at any time.

There are over 570,000 vending machines in Germany, but despite their popularity, they are expected to complement, rather than replace traditional shops, operating in areas where a shop may not be economically viable.

In the international imagination unusual vending machines have long had an association with Japan, where they have been known to sell everything from sake to underwear.