The Future of Snacking

I recently led a trends panel at the largest candy and snack show in the country, the 2010 Sweets & Snacks Expo, where more than 2,000 new confectionery and snack products were launched.  With so many options coming on the market, my panel of three trend experts – a CPG research guru, a futurist, and a ‘mommy-blogger’ – convened to discuss which types of products, trends, and other driving forces they think will drive ‘snacking’ in the near future.

With the hardship of having received a box filled with hundreds of new products at our offices to sample (read: devour) as part of our preparation, we were all filled with inspiration about the future. But it wasn’t the new products that shocked me, it was the provocative insights from the panel itself about what’s next for the audience of candy, snack, and CPG execs:

My candy will not be your candy: Large-scale trends from life sciences, like the mapping of the human genome, opens up the real possibility of targeting products to distinct consumer segments or even individuals based on science.  “Imagine individual snacks created based on your own DNA and mapped to your specific dietary or nutritional needs,” said Michelle Bowman, cofounder of AndSpace Consulting.

Nutrition Labeling – putting it out there: Mommy-blogger, Kim Moldofsky, founder of MomImpact.com, likes how companies such as MARS are being more transparent about their nutritional values right on the FRONT of their packaging.

Rethinking “snack”: Lynn Dornblaser, director of CPG Trend Insights for Mintel, commented that the concept of a snack has changed. “A snack in not a category,” she said. “It’s an eating occasion. Anything can be a snack and sometimes, a snack can be a meal.”

Eating it all: Advances in material science are already making edible packaging a reality. Michelle Bowman stretched our thinking about the need to be environmentally conscious by suggesting that snack packaging could go away altogether – or at least be fully edible. And because of work already completed at MIT, that this is already possible.

The new health food?: My favorite moment during the discussion was when I asked the panel to fill in this question: “In five years, candy will be….” Michelle answered that ‘candy will be the new health food.’ How? Genetic engineering could make snacks healthy, and, healthy food ‘junkier’, blurring the lines between good and bad even further. Imagine a future when moms say “honey, put down those peas and finish your Snickers bar or no dessert!”.

With all of these new snack innovations on the horizon, it’s a great time to be a kid!

How would you answer the question: “In five years, candy will be…..?” Share your insights here.

To see an extended video of the panel, check out our youtube channel.

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