One of the reasons why food is so important is interesting is that it calls upon our identities and cultures, making us question why we eat certain foods and why we eat with certain people and in certain places. Another interesting aspect of food is that it is aspirational and it is a great indicator of who we think we are.
The future of confectionary is changing in unimaginable ways. Global brands will be making monumental shifts towards an exciting future more aligned to the world of Willy Wonka.
Taste, alone is not good enough for consumers. They want multifunctional benefits from the foods they eat. Texture, water, vending, health, and packaging are five global macro trends expected to gain popularity in the next three years.
Flavour has been the king of brand unique selling proposition for a long time, but now brands are looking at texture for their new ‘wow’ factor. One of the biggest advantages for food companies investing in texture is that it enables them to use less of the product itself. Chocolate manufacturers, in order to deal with the rising prices of chocolate, use texture to maintain the same mouthfeel but with reduced surface area of the chocolate. Studies have revealed that when the shape of chocolate is changed, it changes the perception of its taste.
Another way to play with the texture of chocolate is by changing its dimensions and layers to create a different mouthfeel interest, like a Kit Kat inside out with chocolate on the inside and crisp wafer on the outside. With chocolate, gels, jellies, cream can be arranged in layers in different combinations.
3D printing is changing the way confectionary structures can be created with space inside them. Tableware, some of them edible, with different textures offers a different experience to the diner even if the meal remains the same.
Texture is creating a sense of disruption, bringing chaos into a perfect system of manufacturing and serving food where every portion or serving looks exactly the same. Instead, small batch production is making it possible to have every item slightly different with imperfections introduced to create the feel of homemade food
Texture also makes it possible to offer the experience of revealing something after hiding it. The decoration and texture of a cake can be shifted to its inside so that it’ll be revealed with each bite.
Water is a huge trend nobody will be able to ignore because we’ll see a lot of products that will replace water or provide water in different ways. Moreover, sugar-free confectionary will be connected to water in several ways. New water concepts gaining market share from traditional water include birch water, aloe water, and brands such as Icelandic Glacial and Melt.
Encapsulation of water is an upcoming trend. Brands such as Ooho are offering edible water contained in a membrane which can be consumed.
Vending machines are going to be a huge across the world because consumers expect to get what they want 24×7 and delivered to them in a cool way. Brands are increasingly incorporating technology to drive their marketing campaigns. Bus shelters and train stations with a captive audience of people waiting offer huge opportunities for DIY vending machines to dispense popcorn, milk, juice, ice cream and other confectionary.
Kraft, along with Intel, introduced a vending machine in the US to dispense samples of its Jell-O Temptations product to adults alone. The machine was fitted with eye detection and facial recognition technology to determine the shape, age, and sex of the shopper. When kids were detected, the machine displayed the following message: “Sorry, kid. You’re too young to experience indulgence like this. Please step away so the adults can get their free treat.” Another example of great vending is the Sprinkles Cupcake ATM in the US which accepts credit cards and dispenses cupcakes in seconds.
Health and wellness is a massive, far-reaching trend. Consumers are taking more responsibility for their health. They are more self-aware and interested in self-policing. DNA profiling will become the driver of this trend through devices that will help consumers find out diets suited to their genetics.
Ice cream brands are adding ingredients such as Spirulina and Chlorella and creating a perception of health and nutrition. This is drawing consumers to the idea that confectionary can fit into health and superfood categories. Black foods are becoming popular for their antioxidant properties.
Snacking foods, including confectionary, are being reduced from big bites to much smaller portion sizes. The health benefits of camel milk have got the attention of western markets, which is likely to result in a widespread adoption of camel milk ice cream and chocolates. Consumers are now buying into the trend of confectionary with insects, a cheap source of protein. Another global trend is the backlash against sugar, prompting brands to look at alternatives, leading to the use of vegetables in confectionary. Leading brands have introduced sugar free ice creams with green tea and vegetable flavours. Natural sweeteners such as Palmyra Jaggery, which are rich in B12 and other essential minerals, are seen as the game changers in sugar alternatives.
Environment concerns have sparked a huge conversation about packaging as consumers understand the difference between biodegradable and compostable. Innovative, compostable packaging is changing the food and beverage industry. Edible glassware can made from a type of sugar which doesn’t melt with liquid in it. Food and drink packaging such as WikiCells uses a natural food membrane which can be consumed along with the contents.
The unwrapping phenomenon among children shows how packaging is one of the most important parts of the customer journey. Brands are realising that consumers are interested in what they are not saying more than what they are saying. The information conveyed through packaging will become irrelevant in future because consumers will be able to scan the product and access all its information. The packaging, itself, will become a part of the product and experience.