The Vegan Market: Plant Based Desserts

With the news of Ben & Jerry’s creating vegan based versions of ice cream, as well as supermarkets expanding the vegan offering that they stock, Sonia Sharma profiles the aisle of plant based desserts and new product development within this sector

According to The Vegan Society there are at least 542,000 vegans in the UK – more than three times as many as there were in 2006, making veganism the fastest growing lifestyle movement.

The vegan diet has made such a vast impact in recent times that big chains such as Marks & Spencer and Pret a Manger have introduced vegan ranges, as well as Wagamama creating a new vegan menu and Pizza Hut, Pizza Express and Zizzi all offering vegan pizzas. So how are supermarkets catering for vegan consumers and in particular how is it changing the dessert aisle?

Supermarket stock: a growing interest

In 2017, Ocado saw a 1,678% spike in vegan sales, and Tesco has hired a director of plant based innovation who will drastically transform the vegan offering. In an interview with Sky News, Derek Sarno, former senior global chef at Whole Foods Market in the US and Tesco's new director of plant based innovation, said: “A whole new generation of free-from animal foods will disrupt the food service market across the board. Everybody these days knows someone that is vegan and more are going that way, it's empowering and makes a difference by impacting our health, environment and the lives of animals.”

In January, Asda announced the launch of a new, affordable vegan food to go range that has been registered with The Vegan Society. The supermarket vowed to help those taking part in Veganuary – where consumers try the diet for a month – or following the vegan lifestyle to enjoy flavoursome meal options whenever, wherever.

The vegan lunch range aims to fill a gap in the market for great value, on-the-go options with each product priced at £2.50 making the range one of the cheapest vegan food to go options available on the market, providing a quality, value lunch for those following a plant-based diet. Dominika Piasecka, spokeswoman for The Vegan Society, said: “Providing vegan options makes clear commercial sense for retailers, and we are delighted to register Asda’s new vegan range with the Vegan Trademark.

A whole new generation of free-from animal foods will disrupt the food service market across the board.”

“As more customers learn about the ethical, environmental and health benefits of the vegan lifestyle, many businesses have been reacting positively by introducing vegan choices.”

Andrew Johnston, Asda Innovations Chef, added: “With more and more customers going vegan, we’ve introduced a range which not only answer the dietary needs of the nation, but that also turn favourite foods in vegan-friendly, on-the-go options.

“From onion bhajis – one of the top-selling snacks in the UK – to a light Mexican bean salad, our new range ensures easy eating at any time, and delivers a punch of vibrant flavour in each bite. With a greater demand for vegan-friendly versions of everyday popular items, this year will see Asda expand its vegan repertoire even more, with innovative, delicious products in the pipeline for launch throughout 2018.”

Keeping it sweet: dairy free alternatives

Last year iconic ice cream brand Ben & Jerry’s introduced a non-dairy range, made with almonds, in three flavours. The website states: “Some of you are committed to a vegan lifestyle, while others can't or would rather not eat dairy. And all of you are missing the indulgent frozen delights you wish you could enjoy. We knew that with some hard work and experimentation we could deliver the taste and creamy texture you've been craving. So we did.

“We've partnered with Vegan Action over in the US to certify that our non-dairy doesn't include animal products of any kind - including eggs, dairy or honey.” As interest continues to grow, it also looks as if new product development will continue to expand in order to cater to consumers.

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