Next Valentine’s Day, plant-based consumers will have even more chocolate options, thanks to Nestle’s latest development: a vegan KitKat.
NESTLE TAKES PLANT-BASED CHOCOLATE MAINSTREAM
A plant-based candy bar, called KitKat V, will be Nestle’s first vegan milk chocolate product. It will be available online and at select stores in markets including the UK, as a test run, before a potentially wider rollout, reported Bloomberg (Feb. 15).
The bar, which uses a rice-based formula as a milk substitute, took around two years to develop. The main challenge in making milk chocolate alternatives is ensuring it blends well with cocoa and sugar to achieve a creamy texture.
There are several smaller brands that make vegan milk chocolate bars, but there aren’t many popular brands doing so.
“Demand for plant-based food is growing everywhere,” Alexander von Maillot, head of Nestle’s confectionary business, told Bloomberg.
A SHIFT IN THE INDUSTRY
Chocolate sales have boomed over the past year. National Confectioners Association (NCA) data show that chocolate demand surpassed overall candy market demand from March 15, 2020 to Aug. 9, 2020. Between those five months, the premium chocolate market saw the largest growth, with a sales spike of 12.5%. Non-premium chocolate sales rose 5.5%.
Additionally, total chocolate consumption during the past 52 weeks has increased by 4.7% and premium chocolate is up double that, according to Ferrero’s VP of category management and shopper insights Phil DeConto, in an interview with CNBC.
However, despite strong demand for chocolate, a change in shopping patterns is altering the retail landscape as consumers stay at home and transition to online purchases. Chocolatier Godiva will be shuttering its 128 store and café locations across North America at the end of March 2021, citing less in-person shopping during the pandemic.
Vegan chocolate brands, such as with the upcoming launch of KitKat V, are also taking share from traditional chocolate as more consumers are eating plant-based. This can also be seen in the recent acquisition of the Hu chocolate brand by Mondelez. Hu is a dairy-free, vegan, and paleo-friendly chocolate brand.