Interest in plant-based confectionery products continues to grow, according to new research from Innova Market Insights.

The market research firm noted plant-based concepts have moved beyond the core dairy and meat alternative categories, with two-thirds (67 percent) of all new products with “plant-based” claims were launched outside those sectors.

In the confectionery market, more milk-free and gelatin-free products are hitting the shelves, as highlighted in Innova’s new report. While total confectionery launches rose at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of less than 2 percent over 2016-2020, introductions of those carrying vegan claims increased at 17 percent CAGR. More dynamic still were confectionery launches under the simpler “plant-based” banner, with introductions more than doubling in 2020 alone.

A review of vegan and plant based confectionery new product development also demonstrates the shift of animal-free products further into the mainstream. While vegan claims were once predominantly used as secondary or tertiary claims in combination with other “free-from,” organic or health positionings, they are now coming to the fore as a primary focus.

“Mars’ introduction of vegan Topic and Bounty bars in the UK this month demonstrates the growing importance of the vegan message,” says Lu Ann Williams, director of innovation at Innova Market Insights. “Although the bars are also positioned as gluten-free, ‘vegan’ is the most important claim on the packaging, while the Vegan Society logo is also prominent.”

Innova also noted some confectionery producers are taking formulation and marketing cues from the established dairy and meat alternatives categories. In plant-based chocolate, for example, some of the newer products use terms such as ‘mylk’ or ‘m!lk’ to reflect their dairy-free recipes, while others incorporate nut or oat milks as ingredients. Meanwhile, in gelatin-free sugar confectionery, “veggie” terminology is being used on occasion.