March 6, 2021

Plant-based confectionery to gain ground in 2021

Innova Market Insights’ #2 trend for 2021, Plant-Forward, signifies the evolution of plant-based concepts beyond the core dairy and meat alternatives categories. In 2020, no fewer than 67% of all new products with ‘plant-based’ claims were launched outside of these pioneering sectors. In the confectionery market, for example, more and more milk-free and gelatin-free products are hitting the shelves, as highlighted in a new report from Innova Market Insights. Meanwhile, the plant-based confectionery space is growing in popularity.

While total confectionery launches rose at a CAGR of less than 2% over 2016-2020, introductions of those carrying vegan claims increased at 17% CAGR. More dynamic still were confectionery launches under the simpler ‘plant-based’ banner, with introductions more than doubling in 2020 alone.

A review of vegan and plant-based confectionery NPD also demonstrates the shift of animal-free products further into the mainstream. While vegan claims were once predominantly used as secondary or tertiary claims in combination with other ‘free-from’, organic, or health positionings, they are now coming to the fore as a primary focus.

“Mars’ introduction of vegan Topic and Bounty bars in the UK this month demonstrates the growing importance of the vegan message,” says Lu Ann Williams, Director of Innovation at Innova Market Insights. “Although the bars are also positioned as gluten- free, ‘vegan’ is the most important claim on the packaging, while the Vegan Society logo is also prominent.”

It is also interesting that some confectionery producers are taking formulation and marketing cues from the established dairy and meat alternatives categories. In plant-based chocolate, for example, some of the newer products use terms such as ‘mylk’ or ‘m!lk’ to reflect their dairy-free recipes, while others incorporate nut or oat milks as ingredients. Meanwhile, in gelatin-free sugar confectionery, ‘veggie’ terminology is being used on occasion.

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