Plamil CEO Adrian Ling launches first World Vegan Chocolate Day
The UK-based CEO of Plamil Foods, Adrian Ling, has moved to create the first World Vegan Chocolate Day (WVCD) to celebrate the fast-rising global market, reports Neill Barston.
Its development comes as the movement continues to gain pace, with industry estimates of a growing global sector serving at least 79 million people, with a far greater number following a ‘flexitarian’ or vegetarian diet, including segment-specific confectionery.
As Ling, who is regarded as the ‘Vegan Willy Wonka,’ explained, he was inspired to create the event, taking place on January 31, to celebrate vegan chocolate in all its forms. He believed that it offered something for everyone, from white to dark high cocoa chocolate, from ice cream to vegan chocolate cakes, from premium bars to everyday snacks.
While there is a chocolate celebratory day in July, and other national chocolate days internationally, the Plamil CEO felt that vegan chocolate deserved to have its own day as the category has expanded to include Veganuary, dedicated to encouraging people to explore whether they could live on a. vegan diet.
As the CEO, of the Folkestone-headquartered business that was among the pioneering brands for the plant-based food movement in the 1950s and 60s, noted with a previous video interview with Confectionery Production, the company’s ranges, including So Free, have seen the company develop significantly in recent years.
He said: ‘we wish to celebrate all the positive things about chocolate in all its forms, but quite obviously we are promoting that chocolate is fantastic without the dairy. Falling at the end of Veganuary makes this day an extra celebration of all things vegan.
Furthermore, he added that WVCD should seek to go further than simply celebrating chocolate, and expressed his ambition that the event would focus on compassion for animals, concern for the environment and all the elements that motivate growth in vegan, also encompasses and values those people and communities that produce the cocoa.
The development of the event comes amid sustained category growth, which has been confirmed by the Vegan Society. It noted that last year, 582,000 people signed up for the Veganuary campaign, against 400,000 in 2020. Significantly, its research showed that Google searches for vegan food rose 5,000 percent in 2021.
This has been backed up by Innova Market Insights studies that showed annual growth in global food and beverage launches with vegan and plant-based claims grew 21% and 58% between 2015-2019 respectively.
Ling added: ‘We want celebrate and enjoy cocoa but not at the cost of farmers. It seems a no brainer that we should recognize the value of farmers wellbeing, so we are promoting the idea that vegan chocolate should be made from cocoa grown within one of the number of certifications which promote, encourage and certify rights and benefits to the farmers such as the Rainforest Alliance or Organic certification, but there are others.
The event has already gained support from industry, with brands including Winning Ways and Jeavons set to back the occasion. In addition, UK premium chocolate brand Seed and Bean has also offered its support as it confirms a launch for three new releases of rice-based Milk Chocolate. Oliver Shorts, of the company, added: ‘We’ve been developing a range of truly delicious milk free chocolate which will hit the shelves on March 1st. Offering this to our consumers was really important as the demand for Vegan product continues to grow’.
Ling added that he believed the sector would continue its support for the celebration later this month. He concluded: ‘As more companies getting on board with their own activities, we see this day is going to be a great annual event.” For more details on the event contat [email protected] or 01303 850588.