Major emergence of Oat milk chocolate market sparks wider Vegan market growth

It’s perhaps of little surprise that groups such as Luker Chocolate have this week unveiled oat milk confectionery ranges against a reported 70% sales rise within the category, fuelled by ever-more health-conscious consumers.

The Colombian ethically-founded chocolate brand has been steadily expanding its presence in global markets and expanding into the ‘better-for-you’ arena makes considerable sense amid broader market considerations.

As the business noted, many plant based chocolate options have mainly consisted of high-quality dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 50% or more, but oat milk’s creamy texture enables a viable alternative to milk chocolate that appears to be making considerable inroads. There will of course be purists who will insist on their dairy fix – but it’s now clear that plant-based alternatives are on the rise and will no-doubt be filling our shelves at a considerable rate in the coming months and years ahead.

The latest launch from Luker follows UK brand Love Cocoa’s move into the space with its HiP (Happiness in plants) series of chocolate, which according to the company’s founder James Cadbury this week heralded as a notable success after its recent roll-out.

Elsewhere in the vegan market this week, Plamil unveiled a new website targeting industry professionals seeking to engage with its broad range of vegan-friendly confectionery, which has recently included its So Free series that has continued to fly the flag for the segment that is showing no sign of slowing down any time soon.

Though precise figures are not available, a total of 500,000 signed up for the ‘veganuary’ initiative in the UK pledging to eat only vegan food for a month, which was more than double the figure from 2019, and up over 300,000 from figures dating from 2014, when around 150,000 were thought to be vegan in the UK.

Shopping comparison site has reportedly stated the present figure of those following a plant-based diet in the UK alone is in fact far higher, standing at around 1.5 million.  As one manufacturer recently noted to Confectionery Production, the amount of aisle space in supermarkets being devoted to vegan markets is clearly a sure sign that this is no short-term fad, but an ingrained consumer preference.

With this in mind, it’s highly likely that we will discover far more disruptor brands and established businesses (including Nestle recently unveiling its vegan KitKat), that will spark some much-needed product innovation as we move into the latter part of the year.

Neill Barston, editor, Confectionery Production

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