Health & welfare

Veganuary 2021 attracts record numbers with boost to confectionery sales predicted

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Endangered Species' new oat-milk chocolate bar. Pic: Endangered Species
Endangered Species' new oat-milk chocolate bar. Pic: Endangered Species

Related tags vegan

UK non-profit organisation Veganuary is predicting 2021 is going to see its biggest participation since the global initiative began in 2014 with more than 440,000 participants already signed up for the 31-day annual vegan challenge.

With international stars including Ricky Gervais, Paul McCartney, and Chrissie Hynde pledging their support by calling on consumers all over the world to help fight climate chaos and prevent future pandemics by changing their diet, the organisation says: ‘this new year, more than any other, is the time for positive change’.

More than 400,000 people from 192 countries took part in Veganuary in 2020 and this year the charity has expanded its efforts by launching programmes in two new countries, Brazil and Argentina, and its first French language pledge – building on the campaigns already established in the UK, US, Germany and Chile.

The goal this year is a global total of 500,000 sign-ups through the Veganuary​ website alone.

Toni Vernelli, Veganuary’s International Head of Communications, said: “2020 brought much hardship and heartbreak, but it has also given us an opportunity to change and build a better future.

“Veganuary offers people a way to take positive action to protect our health and our planet, as well as help prevent future pandemics. The huge response we’ve had this year shows it’s exactly what many people need right now​.”

This year’s pledge has received a boost from UK and multinational companies – including KitKat maker Nestlé, who is backing the campaign on health grounds and urging its workforce to do the same.

Marco Settembri, Chief Executive of Nestlé EMEA, said: “A well-planned plant-based diet can meet nutritional needs during all stages of life while there are environmental and health benefits too.

“This year I am passing the baton and encouraging all employees to participate in Veganuary and sign up to the challenge. I am happy to be part of this movement as it grows across Europe and beyond.”

Media company Bloomberg, UK retailers Marks & Spencer and leading accountancy firms PwC and EY are also backing Veganuary.

Vegan chocolate

The vegan chocolate category became one of the trends of 2020, driven by the coronavirus pandemic and the switch in consumers for healthier confectionery with a sustainability claim.

Barry Callebaut launched its 'Plant Craft' range with a dairy-free with new 'M_lk Chocolate' at ISM in Cologne last year. The new line spans chocolate, cocoa, nut products, fillings and decorations for other confectioners to use

"The next generation of consumers is looking for experiences that are tasty, good for them and good for the planet​," said Pablo Perversi, Barry Callebaut's Chief Innovation, Sustainability and Quality Officer and Head of Gourmet.

Emerging brands, such as Indianapolis-based start-up Endangered Species is using oat milk to add a creamy mouthfeel to chocolate with a range of dark chocolate bars with nuts, fruit and espresso beans, while also offering a line of vegan chocolate chips.

Milk chocolate really is the backbone of the confection industry, but if you are vegan or if you are a brand that's really trying to make a statement about sustainability, finding an alternative ingredient that's still going to deliver a creamy mouthfeel, add sweetness to chocolate and really fit into a lot of different confections is key​,” said Kara Nielsen, director at WGSN, an Ascential-owned trend forecasting company.

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