NCA Sweet Insights 2016

Breakfast potato chips, frozen corn puffs and printed chocolate - the changing face of snacks and candy

By Douglas Yu

- Last updated on GMT

3D printing is starting to have a strong impact on candy production
3D printing is starting to have a strong impact on candy production

Related tags Confectionery Innovation

Technology and demand for healthier and interactive products is helping transform the snacks and confectionery market, say analysts.

New and recently launched products - and the trends that them to market - were explored in the latest National Confectioners Association’s Sweet Insights summer webinar, held last week (July 13).

Hosted by Tom Vierhile, innovation insights director at global market research firm Canadean, the event explained that formulation, positioning and packaging account for 90% of the product innovation - with the remainder made up of new markets, technology and merchandizing.

Technology: a disrupter in candy industry

Vierhile said that although technology accounts for a small percentage of innovations it can be “quite disruptive", ​with 3D printing especially starting to have a strong impact on candy production.

Activity includes US firm 3D Systems collaborating with Hershey to manufacture 3D chocolates​, while KU Leuven University has developed a prototype 3D printer using pectin gel for candy​.

And 3D printing is not the only technological innovation making an impact, with UK-based confectioner Boomf enabling consumers to print selfies onto marshmallows​.


Novelty elements attract younger generation

Canadean consumer insights research shows products that offer consumers more control and interactions are particularly appealing to younger generations.

Soundy Candy from Turkey is the first hard candy whose popping sound could last for 10 minutes, Vierhile said.

On the snack side, South Korea’s Nongshim Ice Corn frozen puffs require eaters to put the product in the freezer for 20 minutes before consuming it.

The product was developed after South Korea launched its national Cool Biz campaign to help reduce electricity consumption by limiting the use of air conditioning, Vierhile said. Nongshim Ice Corn took advantage of people’s desire for cool snacks during summer.

Targeting every snacking opportunity

While chocolate consumption usually occurs later at night, snacking tends to peak between lunch time and dinner, according to Canadean research.

Vierhile said Romanian corn chip brand, For Beer, was created to encourage people to pair beer with its products between 5pm to 8pm.

He added that probably “the biggest surprise”​ is Japanese breakfast potato chips from Koikeya.

“Breakfast chips are not ordinary for Americans,”​ he said. “But there are cookies that are now designed for breakfast consumption; I don’t see why chips cannot.”

Adding health value to sweets and snacks

With strong consumer demand for healthier snacks, manufacturers should focus on “positive”​ candy and snacking, and understand healthful ingredients such as fruit, vegetables and nuts, suggested Vierhile.

For example, he said, the dark chocolate market has been experiencing growth as more people become aware of the potential benefit of flavanols.

Research also shows that more than half of millennials would feel less guilty about unhealthy food if it contained a healthy ingredient, said Vierhile, adding that businesses should look to tap such demand.

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