Barry Callebaut reveals 60% of consumers now expect plant-based options
04 Jan 2022 --- Millennials and Gen Zers, aged 18 to 44, are actively going in search of plant-based foods, a new global study commissioned by Swiss chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut has found. It examined attitudes across Western Europe, UK, US and Australia.
“Consumers expect every brand to have a plant-based option. That comes from vegans, vegetarians, but also flexitarians and non-vegans,” Sofia Popova, EMEA marketing director Food Manufacturers at Barry Callebaut, tells FoodIngredientsFirst.
The research, involving more than 3,200 participants, shows that 60% of respondents expect food brands to offer a plant-based option compared with 43% for Gen X and Boomers, aged 45 to 75.
“Today, only 45% are happy with the milk chocolate alternatives they can find on the shelf. At the moment it’s all about offering a variety of textures and flavors. Truly indulgent treats can be part of expanding plant-based shelves, both in store and in consumers’ kitchens,” Popova outlines.
Similar research conducted in Western Europe in 2020 showed that only 25% of respondents consumed plant-based or vegan chocolate options, the company reports. By the end of 2021, this had risen to nearly 64% of consumers who consumed plant-based chocolate products.
Plant-based claims carry more value
Globally, the key motivations to try plant-based chocolate treats are health, taste and dietary variation. Only 12% of respondents chose plant-based confectionery due to allergies.
The consumer research shows that plant-based proves the strongest claim when compared with vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free and lactose-free positionings. Dairy-free and lactose-free claims “only” gather 16% of appeal compared to other dairy restrictive claims.
Popova explains: “We saw the demand for plant-based food accelerating and wanted to better understand the drivers behind, how and if consumer motivations differ and evolve across the globe.”
Half of respondents chose health and taste as key motivations to their consumption, before climate and animal welfare.
“In 2020, we did similar research and the ask for plant-based treats was significantly lower. We see that taste and variety are important triggers to go for a plant-based treat, flexitarians are by far the leading group in driving the demand and ”plant-based” is the most appreciated claim versus vegan or dairy-free,” Popova underscores.
Acquiring the taste
In the UK, health, taste and variety are ranked highly. Globally, the key barriers to eating plant-based chocolate are concerns about taste, high prices and lack of knowledge. However, price is the absolute priority in the UK.
The research shows that one third of global consumers are prepared to pay more for a plant-based option. Gen Z and Millennials, who constituted 42% of the respondents are more prepared to do that than older generations.
About 59% of UK consumers aged 18 to 44 expect food brands to offer a plant-based option and 42% are prepared to pay more for it. “This is what brands will need to keep in mind for their plant-based innovations to succeed,” Popova says.
Personal health trends have driven the confectionery category since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. Chocolate remains the top snack of the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 90% of US consumers purchasing some form of chocolate candy.
Spoiled for choice
Two thirds of Millennials and Gen Zers are interested in a broader offering. Similarly in other segments, one of the main motivations to consume plant-based is to try something new. In the UK, 69% of respondents believe more flavors and textures should become available in plant-based milk chocolate.
Barry Callebaut recently unveiled a dairy-free and plant-based chocolate solution for the sweet snacking category, Dairy-Free Compounds, which are made in fully segregated production facilities that do not handle dairy.
The study analyzed plant-based indulgence across confectionery, bakery, pastry and ice-cream. Less than 50% of the respondents are satisfied with the current offering of plant-based milk chocolate, while 61% would like a wider variety of exciting flavors and textures. International chefs designed a variety of plant-based chocolate and confectionery creations for Barry Callebaut’s Veganuary plant craft pop-up shop.
Vegan confectionery pop-up shop
Barry Callebaut will open a plant craft online pop-up shop on January 10 to celebrate Veganuary and the “plant-based boom”. The shop will offer more than 50 delicacies in confectionery pastry, bakery, drinks and ice-cream to B2B customers.
Barry Callebaut introduced Plant Craft in 2020, a range of ingredients from chocolate to cocoa to nuts, fillings and decorations for indulgent plant-based creations. “This is the range that we will keep expanding in the coming years,” explains Popova.
“We've reached out to 17 chefs across the globe and asked them to create indulgent plant based treats that could delight the most discerning flexitarians. And they came back with over 60 plant-based pralines, tablets, biscuits, muffins, ice creams and drinks,” says Popova.
By Inga de Jong
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