It's that time of the year where everyone wants to predict the biggest trends that will impact the food industry - but to anticipate the real changes, you need to look a little further ahead, said Horsky. "We're trying to understand which things will disrupt the market longer term, not necessarily just this year."
Snacking as an experience
One significant change is the way snacks are encroaching upon mealtimes; growing numbers of young people see no problem in swapping three daily meals for six substantial snacks a day.
This means the snacking sector needs to up its game and offer snacks that provide experiences; it's not just about food intake.
Horsky points to Le Whif, a confectionery product developed at Le Laboratoire in Paris that lets users experience chocolate by inhaling instead of eating it.
“Some of these products – sniffing chocolate, for example - will not become mainstream but they do showcase the trend of consumers wanting to have products in new interesting multisensory formats.”
“Mindfulness is a huge trend at the minute. People want to enjoy life and cherish the moment, and some [firms] are responding to this by creating snacks that let people embrace the moment, like with wine,” said Horsky, who will be speaking at Food Vision held in London in March this year.
It's getting personal
Personalisation is another defining trend that is set to continue to evolve.
“It’s counter intuitive for big food manufacturers; they’re all about scale and making the same products. But consumers want special customisation and we are seeing technology moving from the fringes that is enabling this," he told FoodNavigator. “Today big manufacturers have the tools to do unique things but with scalable technology.”
Horsky pointed to the visual printing techniques that made Coca-Cola’s hugely successful Share a Coke campaign possible.
It won’t stop at names on labels though. 3D printing techniques, which are getting cheaper and faster, could see consumers ordering 3D printed chocolates in the shape of their face. “A bespoke chocolate selfie!,” said Horsky.
Coupled with the rise of e-commerce that allows innovations to be shipped worldwide, personalised food will come to the fore.
Finally, when a snack is essentially a single serve portion for one, what explains the trend that is already shaping the snacking industry - the desire to eat snacks together?
In our hyper connected lives that are increasingly lived online - and where even the search for relationships is done through dating apps - people are looking for meaningful connections everywhere - including with food, he said.
This ‘sharing is caring’ element can be seen in the marketing for certain brands – Kind bars promote the idea of doing random acts of kindness, for instance - but it is also trickling down to have an impact at the
product level, said Horsky - and not just in the form of traditional sharing bags.
“Cadbury’s Dairy Milk Marvellous Creations range is a chocolate in big bar format with unique flavours and funny combinations but idea is that they are constructed to be shareable, they can’t be eaten alone. They are also not uniform, but can be broken in different ways.
“Snacks will still, for the majority, continue to be consumed alone but smart food manufacturers or food service operators will try to take in this wave of the more emotional perspective.”
Interested in learning more about product innovation, snacking trends and how to connect with consumers? Then join other food and drink industry leaders at Food Vision from 1 – 3 March 2017 in London.
Organised by William Reed, the publisher of FoodNavigator, this industry event brings together CEOs, academics and top scientists for three days of interactive conferences and networking sessions on how to drive sustainable growth and profitability in global nutrition, food and beverage markets.