Published in Marketing
Plant-based confectionery to gain ground in 2021

In the confectionery market, milk-free and gelatin-free products are hitting the shelves more frequently, answering the demands of health-conscious consumers who still want to indulge in sweet applications. As highlighted in a new report from Innova Market Insights, the plant-based confectionery space is snowballing.

Innova Market Insights’ number two trend for 2021, “Plant Forward,” signifies the evolution of plant-based concepts beyond the core dairy and meat alternatives categories. In 2020, no fewer than 67 percent of all new products with “plant-based” claims were launched outside of these pioneering sectors, the market researcher has revealed. 

While total confectionery launches rose at a CAGR of less than 2 percent between 2016 and 2020, introductions of those carrying vegan claims increased at 17 percent CAGR. More dynamic still were confectionery launches under the “plant-based” banner, with introductions more than doubling in 2020 alone.


Moving to mainstream

A review of vegan and plant-based confectionery NPD also demonstrates the shift of animal-free products further into the mainstream. While vegan claims were once predominantly used as secondary or tertiary claims combined with other “free-from,” organic or health positionings, they are now coming to the fore as a primary focus.  

“Mars’ introduction of vegan Topic and Bounty bars in the UK this month demonstrates the growing importance of the vegan message,” says Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “Although the bars are also positioned as gluten-free, ‘vegan’ is the most important claim on the packaging, while the Vegan Society logo is also prominent.” 

Big names brands are also unveiling their animal-free launches in line with Veganuary, a UK organization encouraging consumers to go vegan for the month of January. Some confectionery producers are taking formulation and marketing cues from the established dairy and meat alternatives categories. For example, in plant-based chocolate, some of the newer products use terms such as “mylk” or “m!lk” to reflect their dairy-free recipes, while others incorporate nut or oat milk as ingredients. Meanwhile, in gelatin-free sugar confectionery, “veggie” terminology is being used on some occasions.


What’s happening in the plant-based arena?

Launches of plant-based and vegan-friendly products have significantly increased across all sweet categories to keep pace with growing consumer demand for healthy and indulgent products. This comes as the burgeoning interest in plant-based ingredients pushes plant-based eating from trend to food revolution status.

Iconic and indulgent brands like Magnum and Galaxy introduced new plant-based products with indulgence at heart. This is growing the category from its niche into the mainstream.

Last August, indulgent chocolatier Lindt launched a vegan chocolate range made from oat milk. The launch was part of the Swiss chocolate and confectionery company’s HELLO range and promised to be “vegan and exquisite.”

Last September, a descendant of John Cadbury and founder of British chocolate specialist, Love Cocoa, James Cadbury, launched his latest venture – the UK’s first oat milk chocolate range.

Motivated by his own dairy-free journey, James created a creamy plant-powered chocolate using a “secret recipe” which utilizes “completely different production techniques” to formulate HiP (Happiness in Plants).

Also in September 2020, chocolate and cocoa giant Barry Callebaut extended its “Plant Craft” range of vegan and dairy-free indulgent chocolate, cocoa and nut products for food and beverage manufacturers.

In February 2020, Barry Callebaut launched a 100% dairy-free milk chocolate coined “M_lk Chocolate” as part of Plant Craft, which has been developed to satisfy the growing demand for plant-based indulgence, particularly among Millennials and Generation Z. It was part of a broader portfolio of Plant Craft products ranging from chocolate, cocoa, nuts and fillings to decorations.

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