Veganuary reveals rising tide of chocolate confectionery options

With the Veganuary movement now in its seventh year, a total of over 440,000 people have signed up to the 31-day vegan challenge – which includes a growing array of sweets and snacks products, reports Neill Barston.

As Confectionery Production has previously noted, there has been an increasing consumer shift towards plant-based options within the sector, underlined by key releases from Mars through its Galaxy series, as well as a number of British-based brands including Plamil with its So Free range, plus LoveRaw, Montezuma’s, Green & Blacks, Made In Africa and Love Cocoa, that are driving market interest.

This year’s Veganuary, which urges shoppers to try a vegan lifestyle, has been supported by a number of notable public figures including  Jane Goodall, Ricky Gervais, Paul McCartney, John Bishop, Sara Pascoe, Chris Packham, Chrissie Hynde and over 100 international superstars, politicians, NGOs and businesses who signed a joint letter published last week calling on everyone to help fight climate chaos and prevent future pandemics by changing their diet.

Toni Vernelli, Veganuary’s International Head of Communications, said: “2020 brought much hardship and heartbreak, but it has also given us an opportunity to change and build a better future.

“Veganuary offers people a way to take positive action to protect our health and our planet, as well as help prevent future pandemics. The huge response we’ve had this year shows it’s exactly what many people need right now.”

As the non-profit educational organisation noted, more than one million people have already completed Veganuary’s one-month pledge since it began in 2014 and statistics*compiled by Dr Helen Harwatt from Harvard University’s Animal Law and Policy program show that their collective impact has been significant.

This include 103,840 tonnes of CO2eq saved, equivalent to driving around the world almost 15,000 times, 405 tonnes of PO43-eq (eutrophication) saved, the same as 1,645 tonnes of sewage, 6.2 million litres of water saved, the same as flushing the toilet almost half a million times. Additionally, more than 3.4 million animals were saved according to the Vegan Society’s Veganalyser calculations

More than 400,000 people from 192 countries took part in last year, including rock legends Brian May and Meat Loaf. This year the charity expanded its efforts by launching programmes in two new countries, Brazil and Argentina, and its first French language pledge – building on the campaigns already established in the UK, US, Germany and Chile. The goal this year is a global total of 500,000 sign-ups through the Veganuary website alone.

Consumer reaction

As Paul Morris, European sales manager for Luker Chocolate, the Colombian-based ethical cocoa grower, explains, the business has noticed an increased demand from clients for premium, plant-based, quality chocolate that offer new and interesting flavour profiles and a non-negotiable sustainability offering.

He noted: “Premium chocolate is nothing new. Over the past ten years, high-end ingredients have been the deciding factor for many chocolate companies, and the competition is only growing. Held to the same standards, being plant-based alone is not enough now to attract a growing audience of customers on a plant-based diet.

“Oat milk is outperforming other milk alternatives. As reported by Mintel, in 2018, 23% of British people chose plant-based milk products, with shoppers buying £36m worth of oat milk as sales surged more than 70%. Compared to other dairy alternatives, oat milk is the fastest growing, going from strength to strength in the last year. Brands such as Oatly have contributed to this success with clever branding and celebrity investments.”

Morris added that existing free-from chocolate options to date have mainly consisted of high-quality dark chocolate with a cocoa content of 50% or more. Now, due to oat milk’s creamy consistency, free-from consumers can indulge in a range of chocolates, including white and milk.

“At Luker Chocolate, we believe that the demand will only grow from here. Hence Luker Chocolate’s partnerships with new brands, such as free-from chocolate brand Happi, by Montrose Chocolate, added Morris.

He stated that creating bespoke flavours is a particularly strong way you can set yourself apart from the competition.  Consequently, according to Mintel’s Vegan Chocolate Confectionery 2020 reports, the growth of certain flavours in chocolate such as Peanut Butter (348%) and Honeycomb (223%). These natural ingredient flavours offer something different to standard chocolate profiles. Pairing plant-based with bespoke flavours, sets chocolate companies up for a vegan-friendly audience, looking for the new and exciting products.



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