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Insects as superfood and garbage as “gold”

Trendspotter Carly Stojsic’s predictions include new product categories and a warning about truth in an era of blurry facts.

By Kathryn M. O’Neill  |  March 14, 2017

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Carly Stojsic

Snail slime, ultrarealistic fashion face masks, and recycled food are just a few of the hot products on the horizon, said trendspotter Carly Stojsic, the former market editor for Worth Global Style Network, a trend forecasting firm.

Stojsic, who spoke on campus March 9, described a future populated by flying cars, plastic roads, and offshore housing in a wide-ranging talk that included insights on everything from next year’s fashion to new business opportunities.

Stojsic identified these trends by digging deep into what innovators are doing across a broad spectrum of fields — from artificial intelligence to biomimetics because new ideas often emerge in one industry before they become widespread.

Here’s a few of Stojsic’s predictions:

“Garbage is going to be gold.”
Innovation involving materials is hot, and Stojsic said that the beauty industry is already starting to move from reusing packaging materials to recycling ingredients. “Companies and organizations are working to recycle waste food into usable materials,” she said. Starch from rice waste for example, which contains proteins, can be used in cosmetics.

“Masks will be a big accessory.”  
As governments and private companies increasingly use facial recognition capabilities to identify people wherever they are, efforts to thwart the new technology will ramp up, Stojsic predicted. Noting that decorative masks have already shown up on fashion runways, she said she expects to see them in retail stores within five years.

“Insects are likely the superfood of the future.”
The rising human population calls for a radical re-evaluation of how humans produce food, and insects have a lot to offer, Stojsic said. “I also think snail mucin [a protein in mucus] will replace egg whites as binding agents in baking.”

In addition to offering these specifics, Stojsic outlined broader trends, such as the importance of truth in an era when the lines between fact and fiction are increasingly blurred. “Globally, trust in big business and corporations is waning,” she said. “Think about this as you build your startups.”

Stojsic also provided a glimpse into some of the coolest products she sees entering the market — notably Microsoft’s HoloLens, which enables people to manipulate holograms, and Olli, a self-driving electric vehicle. “Autonomous mobility is poised to be the state of sustainable transport,” she said.

“As the market continues to expand and evolve, being involved in trends means understanding what people perceive,” Stojsic said. “It’s critical to success for brands.”

Stojsic’s talk was sponsored by the MIT Sloan Entrepreneurship and Innovation Club and the MIT Sloan Retail, Consumer Packaged Goods, and Luxury Club.