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Unwrapping the plant-based milk chocolate opportunity

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Unwrapping the plant-based milk chocolate opportunity

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Plant-based confectionery is a fast-growing but still largely untapped opportunity, with almost one-third of UK consumers citing milk chocolate as the product they’d most like to see a plant-based version of.1​ However, the vegan chocolate confectionery market has been held back by difficulties in replicating the indulgent texture of milk chocolate without negatively affecting taste. ADM has overcome these barriers by developing a clean-tasting pea protein that is ideal for use in plant-based chocolate and other confectionery applications.

Dark chocolate is dairy free and therefore typically suitable for people who are trying to find alternatives to dairy. However, despite the growing consumer interest in healthy indulgence, dark chocolate still accounts for only a fraction of the overall market, with more than 80% of UK chocolate consumers choosing milk chocolate instead.2–4


In the dairy beverages category, many people are switching from animal to plant-based products, with almost 25% of UK consumers drinking non-dairy alternatives to milk. In the US, plant-based products account for 14% of the retail milk and milk analogue market, which reflects growing consumer concerns about their own health and how their diet affects the environment.5

Infographic Pea Protein_2

But these trends are yet to translate into significant market share for plant-based alternatives to milk chocolate. Only 5% of global chocolate launches from 2015 to 2018 made a vegan claim despite clear evidence of demand for plant-based confectionery. In a survey of 100,000 consumers, milk chocolate bars and two confectionery products with milk chocolate were the top three products people wanted to see marketed as plant-based versions.

The disconnect between what consumers want and what brands are providing reflects barriers to the development of plant-based confectionery. Specifically, formulators have struggled to replicate the creamy mouthfeel of milk chocolate without introducing undesirable flavours.

Plant-based chocolate that feels just as indulgent

ADM has developed ProFam 580 Pea Protein to break down the barriers to indulgent plant-based chocolate. Typically, although pea protein imbues chocolate with a similar mouthfeel to milk, taste - the number one barrier for consumers considering plant-based foods and beverages – has until now restricted its use in this food category.

Pea protein’s innate beany, earthy flavour profile is suitable for some savoury products but introduces unpalatable off notes in chocolate and other types of confectionery. ADM has eliminated this issue using an improved pea protein processing method that results in a clean-tasting, light-coloured ingredient suitable for confectionery applications. No processing changes are needed to add the ADM pea protein to products such as chocolate or pralines.

There is a rising consumer demand for healthy yet indulgent snacks, with 62% of European consumers saying they want to see chocolate and confectionery as high protein snack products.6 By adding plant protein, brands stand to benefit from enhanced health credentials in their products, and position themselves to also target the 59% of European consumers who expect snacks to offer a nutritional boost.6

ProFam 580’s credentials in this area are demonstrated by the following two formulations: Raspberry bon bons made using ProFam® 580 containing 5g of protein per 32g serving, and a pea protein-based yogurt type concept containing 7g of protein per serving. ProFam 580 can be used to create other, protein enhanced confectionery including chocolate and frozen desserts.

A partner on the cutting edge

ProFam 580 is part of a far broader portfolio that, when combined with ADM’s expert knowledge, establishes ADM as the ideal partner for confectionery companies that want to understand the benefits of pea protein formulation.

By working with ADM, brands can leverage the entire portfolio of expertise across flavors, colors, textures and ingredients - as well as benefitting from ADM’s insights into emerging global trends - to create products that satisfy consumer demands.


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