Food Mass Customization isn't new at all (like mass customization in general- see our blog post last week - for once, restaurants have been doing it all along, and fast food restaurants have began to do it in a more organized fashion (see Chipotle). However, it is new that you can now customize many products you would otherwise by in a store - ranging from cereal, to energy bars to, you guessed it, chocolate. It is notable that while General Mills has experimented with mass customization as a big company, these mass customizers are all startups. In fact, everyone I've met in the field is not only young as a business, but also young as a person.
So what are the arguments for customizing a food product?
Most importantly, it is the taste - you can create something that tastes exactly how you want it to. Take the startup mymelade in Germany - they mix a jelly according to your wishes, and that can include weird stuff like rum - and I tried it and it tasted great!
The second thing most people mention is freshness, something our friend Jonathan from elementbars confirmed - it matters whether you buy a product off the shelf where it had been sitting for months, or if it was just produced (hand-made) a few days ago.
Finally, if you're health conscious, you can design the nutrition that is perfect for you. That is not only the case with obviously healthy foods like cereal and energy bars, but also applies to chocolate, to which you can add toppings with powers that you need - be it the Vitamin C of cranberries or the brain power of walnuts. If you like to take charge of balancing your diet, you should start taking charge of what you eat!
Food Mass Customization will become more important in the future. To quote two experts on the matter:
Dave Gardner told me on twitter: "There will be growth in food mass customization.", and Frank Piller himself wrote: "Whenever I am asked what the next big trend in customization is, one of my answers always is food." Note- he wrote that in 2007. And now we're here! :)