Confectionery, bakery, pastry and ice-cream brands have a lot of room to improve when it comes to plant-based options. That’s according to new global research from Barry Callebaut. 

New global research from Barry Callebaut shows that only 45 percent of global consumers are satisfied with the current offering of plant-based milk chocolate. And, 60 percent of global consumers aged 18 to 44 want broader offerings. 

Millennials and Gen Z (aged 18 to 44) are more likely to actively look for a plant-based diet. The research also shows that six out of ten (60 percent) expect food brands to offer a plant-based option versus four out of ten (43 percent) for Gen X and Boomers (aged 45 to 75). 

The new global research on plant-based indulgence looks at confectionery, bakery, pastry and ice-cream and was commissioned by Barry Callebaut, the world's leading manufacturer of high-quality chocolate and cocoa. 

The research shows that three out of four (74 percent) respondents aged 18 to 44 claim to eat plant-based chocolate occasionally.

Early 2020, in a similar research in Western Europe, only 25 percent said they consume plant-based or vegan chocolate options. End of 2021, almost two thirds (64 percent) of consumers in Western Europe say they sometimes consume a plant-based chocolate product.

In the UK, 69 percent of respondents (age 18-44) say they think more flavors and textures should become available in plant-based milk chocolate.

The potentially good news for brands is that about a third (34 percent) of global consumers are prepared to pay more for a plant-based option. Gen Z & Millennials (42 percent) are more prepared to do that than older generations (25 percent). In the UK specifically, the figure is up to 59 percent of consumers aged 18 to 44 who expect food brands to offer a plant-based option and 42 percent that say they are ready to pay more for it.

The global research on plant-based indulgence also shows almost half of respondents choose health and taste as key motivations to consume it, before climate and animal welfare

Only 45 percent of global consumers are satisfied with the current offering of plant-based milk chocolate, and 61 percent say they would like a wider variety of exciting flavors and textures (58 percent). Interestingly, 76 percent realize the plant-based products may have a different taste. 

On average, four in ten global consumers say they have been consuming more plant-based products over the last 12 months. When asked to think about the future, almost half (44percent) of global consumers expect to increase their consumption of plant-based products. That is almost three out of four (72 percent) for flexitarians. For the UK, the picture is similar, and in regard to the near future, almost half plan to eat more plant-based foods.

Health and taste as key motivations to eat plant-based chocolate in the UK

Globally, the key motivations to try plant-based chocolate treats are: health (43 percent), liking the taste (41 percent), and bringing variety to their diet/trying something new (34 percent), before concerns about climate change and animal welfare. Only 12 percent say it is because of allergies. 

And about three quarters (76 percent) realize that plant-based food can taste differently.

In the UK, the motivations are similar with health (43 percent), taste (43 percent) and variety (32 percent) ranking first. Globally, the key barriers to eating plant-based chocolate are: taste concerns (28 percent), price too high (25 percent) and (19 percent) say they don’t know enough. In the UK, price is the top concern (34 percent) even before taste concerns (30 percent).

The consumer research shows that from vegan, vegetarian, dairy free, lactose free and plant-based, the latter is the most effective claim. Dairy-free and lactose-free claims ‘only’ gather 16 percent of appeal compared to other dairy restrictive claims.

Veganuary pop-up shop ‘PlantCraft’

In January 2022, also known as Veganuary, Barry Callebaut is opening an online pop-up shop to celebrate the plant-based boom. Brands can explore a wide range of delicious plant-based creations in confectionery pastry, bakery, drinks & ice-cream. Over fifty indulgent treats imagined by chefs are available to shop or to download the recipe books.

“Various consumer research show plant-based chocolate is receiving more interest,” said Sofia Popova, Marketing Director EMEA at Barry Callebaut. “Consumers today simply expect every brand to offer a plant-based option and they welcome a variety of flavours and textures. For a lot of brands across food categories the journey only starts now. A confectionery or biscuits shelf today is very far from yogurts, milks or ice-cream in terms of choice of plant-based offers. That is why this Veganuary we open a pop-up shop to invite brands to explore what their next plant-based innovation could taste like.” 

The shop is slated to be open Jan. 10 through Feb. 10, 2022.