Jan 4, 2022 — Millennials and Gen Zers, ages 18-44, are actively searching for plant-based foods, a new global study commissioned by Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut has discovered. He examined attitudes in Western Europe, the United Kingdom, the United States, and Australia.
“Consumers expect each brand to have a plant-based option. That comes from vegans, vegetarians, but also flexitarians and non-vegans, ”explains Sofia Popova, EMEA Food Manufacturers Marketing Director at Barry Callebaut. Food Ingredients First.
The research, which involved more than 3,200 participants, shows that 60% of respondents expect food brands to offer a plant-based option compared to 43% of Gen X and Boomers, ages 45 to 75.
“Today, only 45% are happy with the milk chocolate alternatives they can find on the shelves. At the moment, it’s about offering a variety of textures and flavors. Truly indulgent treats can be part of the expansion of plant-based shelves, both in the store and in consumer kitchens, ”Popova emphasizes.
Similar research conducted in Western Europe in 2020 showed that only 25% of respondents consumed vegan or plant-based chocolate options, the company reports. By the end of 2021, this had risen to nearly 64% of consumers consuming plant-based chocolate products.
Plant-based claims have more value
Globally, the key motivations for trying plant-based chocolate treats are health, taste, and dietary variation. Only 12% of respondents chose plant-based confectionery products due to their allergies.
Consumer research shows plant-based is the strongest claim compared to vegan, vegetarian, dairy-free, and lactose-free positions. Dairy-free and lactose-free “only” claims have 16% appeal compared to other restrictive dairy claims.
Popova explains: “We saw the demand for plant-based foods accelerating and we wanted to better understand the drivers, how and if consumer motivations differ and evolve around the world.”
Half of the respondents chose health and taste as key motivations for their consumption, before the climate and animal welfare.
“In 2020, we did a similar investigation and the request for plant-based treats was significantly lower. We see taste and variety as major triggers for opting for a herbal treatment, Flexitarians are by far the leading group in driving demand and “herbal” is the most appreciated claim compared to vegan or dairy-free, “Popova emphasizes.
In the UK, health, taste and variety rank high. Globally, the main barriers to eating plant-based chocolate are concerns about taste, high prices, and a lack of knowledge. However, price is the top priority in the UK.
Research shows that a third of global consumers are willing to pay more for a plant-based option. Generation Z and Millennials, who made up 42% of those surveyed, are more equipped to do that than previous generations.
Roughly 59% of UK consumers aged 18-44 expect food brands to offer a plant-based option and 42% are willing to pay more for it.
“This is what brands need to consider for their plant-based innovations to be successful,” says Popova.
Personal health trends have driven the candy category since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Chocolate remains the main snack of the COVID-19 pandemic, with nearly 90% of American consumers purchasing some type of chocolate candy. https://www.foodingredientsfirst.com/news/flavorchem-pegs-comfort-sensory-and-plant-based-claims-as-crucial-drivers-in-chocolate-sector.html
Spoiled by 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 products is to try something new. In the UK, 69% of respondents believe that more flavors and textures should be available in plant-based milk chocolate.
Barry Callebaut recently unveiled a dairy-free, plant-based chocolate solution for the category of sweet snacks, dairy-free compounds, which are made in fully segregated production facilities that do not handle dairy.
The study looked at plant-based indulgence in confectionery, bakery, pastry, and ice cream. Less than 50% of respondents are satisfied with the current plant-based milk chocolate offering, while 61% would like a wider variety of exciting flavors and textures.
Vegan confectionery pop-up shop
Barry Callebaut will open an online plant craft pop-up store on January 10 to celebrate Veganuary and the “plant boom.” The store will offer more than 50 delicacies in pastry, bakery, beverage and ice cream confectionery to B2B customers.
Barry Callebaut introduced Plant Craft in 2020, a range of ingredients from chocolate to cocoa and nuts, fillings and decorations for pleasant plant-based creations. “This is the range that we will continue to expand in the coming years,” explains Popova.
“We reached out to 17 chefs from around the world and asked them to create delicious plant-based treats that could delight the most discerning flexitarians. And they came back with more than 60 plant-based chocolates, tablets, cookies, muffins, ice cream and drinks, ”says Popova.
By Inga de Jong
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