Rise of plant-based confectionery and snacks could herald the year of ‘healthier’ options

It’s looking very much as if 2021 could well be ‘the year of plant-based ranges’ across the food sector, and confectionery is clearly no exception to that, as strides continue to be made with new product launches.

As Innova Market Insights noted, the rise in this category is hardly something that’s flash-in-the-pan, with  a rise in milk-free and gelatin-free products hitting shelves, as well as those within the even stricter vegan segment, which completely eradicate any trace of animal-based ingredients.

According to the Netherlands-based research group, total confectionery launches rose at a CAGR of less than 2% between 2016-2020, with vegan items rising at a much higher 17%, with plant-based as a concept more than doubling the number of new series in 2020 over the previous year, indicating a marked shift in consumer attitudes.

Analysts have been quick to draw conclusions that this will amount to a vegan revolution, but in truth it’s hard to state right now what the long-term impact will be in terms of category launches. There is no doubt the pandemic has indeed offered people the chance to reflect on their dietary choices, but putting notions into action isn’t something that’s an overnight process.

This is also seen in the subtle way that advertising of product ranges has been seen in recent years in wider food groups, with products such as Quorn mince and burgers previously being heavily marketed as just for vegetarians, now it’s very much ‘open season’ billed as a healthier option. Whether that line of marketing will translate with confectionery is harder to grasp, but there’s no doubt that the number of product series coming forward is starting to gather pace.

It is becoming increasingly clear that much of this year will pose ongoing challenges surrounding the coronavirus pandemic, which may yet prompt even further issues surrounding the development of new product ranges, as consumers increasingly seek food and treats that offer something extra – either in terms of a health or energy boost that will make people perhaps feel that little bit better about navigating these testing times.

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