The Proof Is In The Pudding: The 30+ Startups Whipping Up Plant-Based Desserts

The Proof Is In The Pudding: The 30+ Startups Whipping Up Plant-Based Desserts

By
Louise Burfitt
December 14, 2021

🧁 What is it?

  • It’s the week leading up to Christmas, so what better time to chat about all things sugar and spice? We hope you’re looking forward to eating some delicious desserts this weekend if you’re celebrating…
  • And are you one of the 36 per cent of consumers, according to QSR magazine, who are keen to try plant-based ice cream? What about vegan puddings? Sit down with your vegan treat of choice and savour our whirlwind tour of the animal-free dessert space.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • Ten or so years ago, if you wanted a vegan pudding, your choices were pretty limited. Either a tub of dairy-free vanilla ice cream, or a gluey, long-life dessert that was but a pale imitation of the real thing.
  • But vegans, rejoice! No longer. There’s been significant growth and investor interest in the plant-based pud category. And we’re showcasing the avo ice-cream, dessert hummus, cookies and oat milk popsicles that prove it…

🤷 Why?

  • The plant-based powers have mastered meat and dairy, so why would they - or should they - stop there? Sweet desserts, baked goods and puddings seem like a natural next step, spurred on by customer enthusiasm for all things plant-based. That applies even to those who don’t identify as vegan, making the potential market for vegan desserts a potentially broad and lucrative one. 
  • Also driving the trend? Food-loving younger consumers (millennials and Gen Z) who love to explore new flavours, try different ingredients and spend their cash on the latest trendy food product. For plant-based pudding makers, that equals a whole world of potential. 
  • Health concerns, in the wake of COVID-19, are also leading consumers to seek out more wholesome, nutritious sweet treats. Vegan puddings and ice creams, not reliant on indulgent ingredients like butter and cream, can present themselves as ‘better for you’ and promote their functional benefits thanks to alternative proteins or other ingredients. 
Plant-based desserts. Source: Over The Spoon, COOLHAUS, Wibble

📈 The figures

  • The global plant-based desserts and puddings market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.1 percent between 2020 and 2027 and was valued at $2.7bn in 2019.
  • In foodservice, plant-based desserts are popping up on menus here, there and everywhere! According to stats by G.S. Gelato, 38% of restaurants that offer plant-based alternatives have added them in the last 2-3 years, and 21% have added them in the past year.
  • Non-dairy frozen dessert sales are expected to pass $1 billion worldwide by 2024, driven by more and more people adopting a plant-based lifestyle.

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • Many plant-based puddings are fresh, vegan takes on the classics, building on consumer appetite for the familiar desserts they’ve been craving since childhood - in an updated form more suitable for the modern, health-conscious, animal–free age. Zen chocolate puddings, made with almond milk, offer a plant-based take on the old favourite, for example. And alt-egg brand Oggs just entered the chilled dessert space with a vegan melt-in-the-middle sponge pudding, another update on a tried and true recipe.
  • Dessert hummus is another interesting development. Building on the public’s love for vegan dips like hummus, some brands - such as Moorish in the UK - have branched out into sweet snacks. Moorish sells chocolate hummus while Tribe in the US have also developed sweet hummus flavours in caramel, pumpkin pie and chocolate. 
  • Frozen plant-based desserts are another big niche within the category. In fact, sales of vegan ice cream have doubled in five years! Big brands opting to launch animal-free ice cream lines have also made the trend more accessible to a wider audience - remember the hype around Ben & Jerry’s dairy-free launch back in 2016? The legacy brand now has 19 vegan flavours and has been joined by a raft of young upstarts hoping to disrupt the plant-based frozen dessert space. 
  • Plant-based ice cream brands include those that are a natural follow-on from plant-based milk, like Oatly’s offering. In alternative proteins, Perfect Day recently acquired Coolhaus Ice Cream, which is now transitioning to be completely animal-free. Brave Robot has also attracted plenty of attention as the world’s first ever dairy-identical animal-free ice cream - also a Perfect Day brand.
  • Plant-based dessert brands using plant-based milks in their products can also make use of the flavour profiles of their base ingredients: Coconut Bliss plays on the natural nutty, creamy flavour of the coconut milk they use to make their products, as do Chloe’s Oatmilk Pops. And now the world has its first avocado-centric plant-based ice cream in Cado
  • Many plant-based desserts include functional ingredients, building on the consumer perception that vegan food is ‘better for you’. Simply Delish puddings are keto-certified, while Daily Harvest has launched a line of coconut ice creams with functional benefits thanks to the inclusion of ingredients like ashwagandha and probiotics. Naanu Cookies, a Swiss brand, even promise their treats provide you with 100% of your daily recommended vitamins and minerals.

👀 Who? (33 companies in this space)

Macaroons made from InnovoPro egg white alternatives. Source: Innovopro

🍨 Case study: InnovoPro

  • Israeli food-tech company InnovoPro aren’t making pudding themselves; rather they have developed an egg white alternative using chickpeas *specifically* designed for use in plant-based desserts. 
  • Known as CP-FOAM™ 1001, the product includes the company’s patented chickpea protein ingredient.
  • It’s a dry mix which can be mixed with water and sugar to conjure up a magical egg white substitute that’s fully vegan and does not require masking agents to disguise the taste. 
  • It means brands can make vegan ice-cream without common additions like lecithin, starch, carrageenan and guar gum; and the same is true for puddings - no maltodextrin or pectin needed.
  • Launched just this week, the non-GMO, clean-label ingredient is also gluten-free as well as dairy-free.
  • Plant-based puddings, ice-creams, sweet milk beverages, energy bars and baked goods are just a few of the product’s many possible applications.

🍮 ​​Case study: Noops

  • Riding the oat milk hype, plant-based pudding brand Noops’ website is full of bright colours, large text and exclamation marks, drawing on Gen Z and millennial fond recollections of similarly branded childhood puddings.
  • The brand says it’s the first organic oat milk, protein-rich pudding of its kind 
  • Available in 5 flavours, including vanilla, chocolate and pumpkin spice, the puddings are kosher and allergen-friendly with no added sugar. 
  • The oats used in the oat milk desserts are grown in Canada and certified organic.
  • Noops hones in on nostalgia in its marketing, appealing to its customers’ childhood memories of delicious sweet puddings, while reaching out to millennials with their emphasis on health and nutrition. 
  • Available online in the US via Instacart, FreshDirect and Hungryroot, the puddings are also stocked in hundreds of stores across the continental USA.
  • Investors seem pretty smitten with the vegan startup, launched by one of Hungryroot’s co founders - $2m in pre-seed funding earlier this year was followed just two months later by another $2m round.
  • Those backing the company have hailed the plant-based dessert space as the next big thing in vegan foods.
  • The startup, which - amazingly - only launched its products in early 2021, plans to use the cash to grow its distribution channels, scale up production and investigate exciting new flavours.
Oat based pudding range. Source: noops

👍 The good

  • Plant-based options in the pudding and desserts category have long been mostly limited to ice creams, while meat and seafood hogged the plant-based limelight. So innovations in the category mean a wider range of choice for vegans and flexitarians, and a chance to draw in those who may previously have written off dairy-free sweet treats. 
  • Exciting innovations in the segment, like InnovoPro’s chickpea protein egg white replacer, are making products healthier, tastier and more like the baked goods they’re often trying to imitate. Traditionally, manufacturers have had to rely on additives like potato protein (which tastes…bad!) and lecithin to make plant-based desserts taste any good. 
  • There are many opportunities in this category: it’s not just for CPG brands. Ingredient suppliers and non-dairy milk manufacturers among others have an opportunity to get involved in the segment.

👎 The bad

  • Plant-based pudding brands have to battle against long-held consumer perceptions that non-dairy or ‘better for you’ desserts can never taste as good as the ‘real’ thing.
  • Likewise, shoppers also expect sweet products that have the traditionally decadent taste afforded by dairy products like butter and milk and non-vegan ingredients like eggs. Recreating the luxurious mouthfeel of the puddings many know and love is crucial.

 💡 The bottom line

  • As more and more consumers turn to plant-based diets, for a variety of reasons, the demand for vegan desserts is only expected to grow, becoming more and more mainstream. 
  • Provided brands can perfect the texture and mouthfeel, plant-based desserts look set to become firm favourites - and not just with vegans.

How did you like today's Trends?

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🧁 What is it?

  • It’s the week leading up to Christmas, so what better time to chat about all things sugar and spice? We hope you’re looking forward to eating some delicious desserts this weekend if you’re celebrating…
  • And are you one of the 36 per cent of consumers, according to QSR magazine, who are keen to try plant-based ice cream? What about vegan puddings? Sit down with your vegan treat of choice and savour our whirlwind tour of the animal-free dessert space.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • Ten or so years ago, if you wanted a vegan pudding, your choices were pretty limited. Either a tub of dairy-free vanilla ice cream, or a gluey, long-life dessert that was but a pale imitation of the real thing.
  • But vegans, rejoice! No longer. There’s been significant growth and investor interest in the plant-based pud category. And we’re showcasing the avo ice-cream, dessert hummus, cookies and oat milk popsicles that prove it…

🤷 Why?

  • The plant-based powers have mastered meat and dairy, so why would they - or should they - stop there? Sweet desserts, baked goods and puddings seem like a natural next step, spurred on by customer enthusiasm for all things plant-based. That applies even to those who don’t identify as vegan, making the potential market for vegan desserts a potentially broad and lucrative one. 
  • Also driving the trend? Food-loving younger consumers (millennials and Gen Z) who love to explore new flavours, try different ingredients and spend their cash on the latest trendy food product. For plant-based pudding makers, that equals a whole world of potential. 
  • Health concerns, in the wake of COVID-19, are also leading consumers to seek out more wholesome, nutritious sweet treats. Vegan puddings and ice creams, not reliant on indulgent ingredients like butter and cream, can present themselves as ‘better for you’ and promote their functional benefits thanks to alternative proteins or other ingredients. 
Plant-based desserts. Source: Over The Spoon, COOLHAUS, Wibble

📈 The figures

  • The global plant-based desserts and puddings market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.1 percent between 2020 and 2027 and was valued at $2.7bn in 2019.
  • In foodservice, plant-based desserts are popping up on menus here, there and everywhere! According to stats by G.S. Gelato, 38% of restaurants that offer plant-based alternatives have added them in the last 2-3 years, and 21% have added them in the past year.
  • Non-dairy frozen dessert sales are expected to pass $1 billion worldwide by 2024, driven by more and more people adopting a plant-based lifestyle.

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • Many plant-based puddings are fresh, vegan takes on the classics, building on consumer appetite for the familiar desserts they’ve been craving since childhood - in an updated form more suitable for the modern, health-conscious, animal–free age. Zen chocolate puddings, made with almond milk, offer a plant-based take on the old favourite, for example. And alt-egg brand Oggs just entered the chilled dessert space with a vegan melt-in-the-middle sponge pudding, another update on a tried and true recipe.
  • Dessert hummus is another interesting development. Building on the public’s love for vegan dips like hummus, some brands - such as Moorish in the UK - have branched out into sweet snacks. Moorish sells chocolate hummus while Tribe in the US have also developed sweet hummus flavours in caramel, pumpkin pie and chocolate. 
  • Frozen plant-based desserts are another big niche within the category. In fact, sales of vegan ice cream have doubled in five years! Big brands opting to launch animal-free ice cream lines have also made the trend more accessible to a wider audience - remember the hype around Ben & Jerry’s dairy-free launch back in 2016? The legacy brand now has 19 vegan flavours and has been joined by a raft of young upstarts hoping to disrupt the plant-based frozen dessert space. 
  • Plant-based ice cream brands include those that are a natural follow-on from plant-based milk, like Oatly’s offering. In alternative proteins, Perfect Day recently acquired Coolhaus Ice Cream, which is now transitioning to be completely animal-free. Brave Robot has also attracted plenty of attention as the world’s first ever dairy-identical animal-free ice cream - also a Perfect Day brand.
  • Plant-based dessert brands using plant-based milks in their products can also make use of the flavour profiles of their base ingredients: Coconut Bliss plays on the natural nutty, creamy flavour of the coconut milk they use to make their products, as do Chloe’s Oatmilk Pops. And now the world has its first avocado-centric plant-based ice cream in Cado
  • Many plant-based desserts include functional ingredients, building on the consumer perception that vegan food is ‘better for you’. Simply Delish puddings are keto-certified, while Daily Harvest has launched a line of coconut ice creams with functional benefits thanks to the inclusion of ingredients like ashwagandha and probiotics. Naanu Cookies, a Swiss brand, even promise their treats provide you with 100% of your daily recommended vitamins and minerals.

👀 Who? (33 companies in this space)

Macaroons made from InnovoPro egg white alternatives. Source: Innovopro

🍨 Case study: InnovoPro

  • Israeli food-tech company InnovoPro aren’t making pudding themselves; rather they have developed an egg white alternative using chickpeas *specifically* designed for use in plant-based desserts. 
  • Known as CP-FOAM™ 1001, the product includes the company’s patented chickpea protein ingredient.
  • It’s a dry mix which can be mixed with water and sugar to conjure up a magical egg white substitute that’s fully vegan and does not require masking agents to disguise the taste. 
  • It means brands can make vegan ice-cream without common additions like lecithin, starch, carrageenan and guar gum; and the same is true for puddings - no maltodextrin or pectin needed.
  • Launched just this week, the non-GMO, clean-label ingredient is also gluten-free as well as dairy-free.
  • Plant-based puddings, ice-creams, sweet milk beverages, energy bars and baked goods are just a few of the product’s many possible applications.

🍮 ​​Case study: Noops

  • Riding the oat milk hype, plant-based pudding brand Noops’ website is full of bright colours, large text and exclamation marks, drawing on Gen Z and millennial fond recollections of similarly branded childhood puddings.
  • The brand says it’s the first organic oat milk, protein-rich pudding of its kind 
  • Available in 5 flavours, including vanilla, chocolate and pumpkin spice, the puddings are kosher and allergen-friendly with no added sugar. 
  • The oats used in the oat milk desserts are grown in Canada and certified organic.
  • Noops hones in on nostalgia in its marketing, appealing to its customers’ childhood memories of delicious sweet puddings, while reaching out to millennials with their emphasis on health and nutrition. 
  • Available online in the US via Instacart, FreshDirect and Hungryroot, the puddings are also stocked in hundreds of stores across the continental USA.
  • Investors seem pretty smitten with the vegan startup, launched by one of Hungryroot’s co founders - $2m in pre-seed funding earlier this year was followed just two months later by another $2m round.
  • Those backing the company have hailed the plant-based dessert space as the next big thing in vegan foods.
  • The startup, which - amazingly - only launched its products in early 2021, plans to use the cash to grow its distribution channels, scale up production and investigate exciting new flavours.
Oat based pudding range. Source: noops

👍 The good

  • Plant-based options in the pudding and desserts category have long been mostly limited to ice creams, while meat and seafood hogged the plant-based limelight. So innovations in the category mean a wider range of choice for vegans and flexitarians, and a chance to draw in those who may previously have written off dairy-free sweet treats. 
  • Exciting innovations in the segment, like InnovoPro’s chickpea protein egg white replacer, are making products healthier, tastier and more like the baked goods they’re often trying to imitate. Traditionally, manufacturers have had to rely on additives like potato protein (which tastes…bad!) and lecithin to make plant-based desserts taste any good. 
  • There are many opportunities in this category: it’s not just for CPG brands. Ingredient suppliers and non-dairy milk manufacturers among others have an opportunity to get involved in the segment.

👎 The bad

  • Plant-based pudding brands have to battle against long-held consumer perceptions that non-dairy or ‘better for you’ desserts can never taste as good as the ‘real’ thing.
  • Likewise, shoppers also expect sweet products that have the traditionally decadent taste afforded by dairy products like butter and milk and non-vegan ingredients like eggs. Recreating the luxurious mouthfeel of the puddings many know and love is crucial.

 💡 The bottom line

  • As more and more consumers turn to plant-based diets, for a variety of reasons, the demand for vegan desserts is only expected to grow, becoming more and more mainstream. 
  • Provided brands can perfect the texture and mouthfeel, plant-based desserts look set to become firm favourites - and not just with vegans.

How did you like today's Trends?

Love it 😁 Meh 😐 Hate it 🙁

🧁 What is it?

  • It’s the week leading up to Christmas, so what better time to chat about all things sugar and spice? We hope you’re looking forward to eating some delicious desserts this weekend if you’re celebrating…
  • And are you one of the 36 per cent of consumers, according to QSR magazine, who are keen to try plant-based ice cream? What about vegan puddings? Sit down with your vegan treat of choice and savour our whirlwind tour of the animal-free dessert space.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • Ten or so years ago, if you wanted a vegan pudding, your choices were pretty limited. Either a tub of dairy-free vanilla ice cream, or a gluey, long-life dessert that was but a pale imitation of the real thing.
  • But vegans, rejoice! No longer. There’s been significant growth and investor interest in the plant-based pud category. And we’re showcasing the avo ice-cream, dessert hummus, cookies and oat milk popsicles that prove it…

🤷 Why?

  • The plant-based powers have mastered meat and dairy, so why would they - or should they - stop there? Sweet desserts, baked goods and puddings seem like a natural next step, spurred on by customer enthusiasm for all things plant-based. That applies even to those who don’t identify as vegan, making the potential market for vegan desserts a potentially broad and lucrative one. 
  • Also driving the trend? Food-loving younger consumers (millennials and Gen Z) who love to explore new flavours, try different ingredients and spend their cash on the latest trendy food product. For plant-based pudding makers, that equals a whole world of potential. 
  • Health concerns, in the wake of COVID-19, are also leading consumers to seek out more wholesome, nutritious sweet treats. Vegan puddings and ice creams, not reliant on indulgent ingredients like butter and cream, can present themselves as ‘better for you’ and promote their functional benefits thanks to alternative proteins or other ingredients. 
Plant-based desserts. Source: Over The Spoon, COOLHAUS, Wibble

📈 The figures

  • The global plant-based desserts and puddings market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.1 percent between 2020 and 2027 and was valued at $2.7bn in 2019.
  • In foodservice, plant-based desserts are popping up on menus here, there and everywhere! According to stats by G.S. Gelato, 38% of restaurants that offer plant-based alternatives have added them in the last 2-3 years, and 21% have added them in the past year.
  • Non-dairy frozen dessert sales are expected to pass $1 billion worldwide by 2024, driven by more and more people adopting a plant-based lifestyle.

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • Many plant-based puddings are fresh, vegan takes on the classics, building on consumer appetite for the familiar desserts they’ve been craving since childhood - in an updated form more suitable for the modern, health-conscious, animal–free age. Zen chocolate puddings, made with almond milk, offer a plant-based take on the old favourite, for example. And alt-egg brand Oggs just entered the chilled dessert space with a vegan melt-in-the-middle sponge pudding, another update on a tried and true recipe.
  • Dessert hummus is another interesting development. Building on the public’s love for vegan dips like hummus, some brands - such as Moorish in the UK - have branched out into sweet snacks. Moorish sells chocolate hummus while Tribe in the US have also developed sweet hummus flavours in caramel, pumpkin pie and chocolate. 
  • Frozen plant-based desserts are another big niche within the category. In fact, sales of vegan ice cream have doubled in five years! Big brands opting to launch animal-free ice cream lines have also made the trend more accessible to a wider audience - remember the hype around Ben & Jerry’s dairy-free launch back in 2016? The legacy brand now has 19 vegan flavours and has been joined by a raft of young upstarts hoping to disrupt the plant-based frozen dessert space. 
  • Plant-based ice cream brands include those that are a natural follow-on from plant-based milk, like Oatly’s offering. In alternative proteins, Perfect Day recently acquired Coolhaus Ice Cream, which is now transitioning to be completely animal-free. Brave Robot has also attracted plenty of attention as the world’s first ever dairy-identical animal-free ice cream - also a Perfect Day brand.
  • Plant-based dessert brands using plant-based milks in their products can also make use of the flavour profiles of their base ingredients: Coconut Bliss plays on the natural nutty, creamy flavour of the coconut milk they use to make their products, as do Chloe’s Oatmilk Pops. And now the world has its first avocado-centric plant-based ice cream in Cado
  • Many plant-based desserts include functional ingredients, building on the consumer perception that vegan food is ‘better for you’. Simply Delish puddings are keto-certified, while Daily Harvest has launched a line of coconut ice creams with functional benefits thanks to the inclusion of ingredients like ashwagandha and probiotics. Naanu Cookies, a Swiss brand, even promise their treats provide you with 100% of your daily recommended vitamins and minerals.

👀 Who? (33 companies in this space)

Macaroons made from InnovoPro egg white alternatives. Source: Innovopro

🍨 Case study: InnovoPro

  • Israeli food-tech company InnovoPro aren’t making pudding themselves; rather they have developed an egg white alternative using chickpeas *specifically* designed for use in plant-based desserts. 
  • Known as CP-FOAM™ 1001, the product includes the company’s patented chickpea protein ingredient.
  • It’s a dry mix which can be mixed with water and sugar to conjure up a magical egg white substitute that’s fully vegan and does not require masking agents to disguise the taste. 
  • It means brands can make vegan ice-cream without common additions like lecithin, starch, carrageenan and guar gum; and the same is true for puddings - no maltodextrin or pectin needed.
  • Launched just this week, the non-GMO, clean-label ingredient is also gluten-free as well as dairy-free.
  • Plant-based puddings, ice-creams, sweet milk beverages, energy bars and baked goods are just a few of the product’s many possible applications.

🍮 ​​Case study: Noops

  • Riding the oat milk hype, plant-based pudding brand Noops’ website is full of bright colours, large text and exclamation marks, drawing on Gen Z and millennial fond recollections of similarly branded childhood puddings.
  • The brand says it’s the first organic oat milk, protein-rich pudding of its kind 
  • Available in 5 flavours, including vanilla, chocolate and pumpkin spice, the puddings are kosher and allergen-friendly with no added sugar. 
  • The oats used in the oat milk desserts are grown in Canada and certified organic.
  • Noops hones in on nostalgia in its marketing, appealing to its customers’ childhood memories of delicious sweet puddings, while reaching out to millennials with their emphasis on health and nutrition. 
  • Available online in the US via Instacart, FreshDirect and Hungryroot, the puddings are also stocked in hundreds of stores across the continental USA.
  • Investors seem pretty smitten with the vegan startup, launched by one of Hungryroot’s co founders - $2m in pre-seed funding earlier this year was followed just two months later by another $2m round.
  • Those backing the company have hailed the plant-based dessert space as the next big thing in vegan foods.
  • The startup, which - amazingly - only launched its products in early 2021, plans to use the cash to grow its distribution channels, scale up production and investigate exciting new flavours.
Oat based pudding range. Source: noops

👍 The good

  • Plant-based options in the pudding and desserts category have long been mostly limited to ice creams, while meat and seafood hogged the plant-based limelight. So innovations in the category mean a wider range of choice for vegans and flexitarians, and a chance to draw in those who may previously have written off dairy-free sweet treats. 
  • Exciting innovations in the segment, like InnovoPro’s chickpea protein egg white replacer, are making products healthier, tastier and more like the baked goods they’re often trying to imitate. Traditionally, manufacturers have had to rely on additives like potato protein (which tastes…bad!) and lecithin to make plant-based desserts taste any good. 
  • There are many opportunities in this category: it’s not just for CPG brands. Ingredient suppliers and non-dairy milk manufacturers among others have an opportunity to get involved in the segment.

👎 The bad

  • Plant-based pudding brands have to battle against long-held consumer perceptions that non-dairy or ‘better for you’ desserts can never taste as good as the ‘real’ thing.
  • Likewise, shoppers also expect sweet products that have the traditionally decadent taste afforded by dairy products like butter and milk and non-vegan ingredients like eggs. Recreating the luxurious mouthfeel of the puddings many know and love is crucial.

 💡 The bottom line

  • As more and more consumers turn to plant-based diets, for a variety of reasons, the demand for vegan desserts is only expected to grow, becoming more and more mainstream. 
  • Provided brands can perfect the texture and mouthfeel, plant-based desserts look set to become firm favourites - and not just with vegans.

How did you like today's Trends?

Love it 😁 Meh 😐 Hate it 🙁

🧁 What is it?

  • It’s the week leading up to Christmas, so what better time to chat about all things sugar and spice? We hope you’re looking forward to eating some delicious desserts this weekend if you’re celebrating…
  • And are you one of the 36 per cent of consumers, according to QSR magazine, who are keen to try plant-based ice cream? What about vegan puddings? Sit down with your vegan treat of choice and savour our whirlwind tour of the animal-free dessert space.

🤔 Tell me more…

  • Ten or so years ago, if you wanted a vegan pudding, your choices were pretty limited. Either a tub of dairy-free vanilla ice cream, or a gluey, long-life dessert that was but a pale imitation of the real thing.
  • But vegans, rejoice! No longer. There’s been significant growth and investor interest in the plant-based pud category. And we’re showcasing the avo ice-cream, dessert hummus, cookies and oat milk popsicles that prove it…

🤷 Why?

  • The plant-based powers have mastered meat and dairy, so why would they - or should they - stop there? Sweet desserts, baked goods and puddings seem like a natural next step, spurred on by customer enthusiasm for all things plant-based. That applies even to those who don’t identify as vegan, making the potential market for vegan desserts a potentially broad and lucrative one. 
  • Also driving the trend? Food-loving younger consumers (millennials and Gen Z) who love to explore new flavours, try different ingredients and spend their cash on the latest trendy food product. For plant-based pudding makers, that equals a whole world of potential. 
  • Health concerns, in the wake of COVID-19, are also leading consumers to seek out more wholesome, nutritious sweet treats. Vegan puddings and ice creams, not reliant on indulgent ingredients like butter and cream, can present themselves as ‘better for you’ and promote their functional benefits thanks to alternative proteins or other ingredients. 
Plant-based desserts. Source: Over The Spoon, COOLHAUS, Wibble

📈 The figures

  • The global plant-based desserts and puddings market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 10.1 percent between 2020 and 2027 and was valued at $2.7bn in 2019.
  • In foodservice, plant-based desserts are popping up on menus here, there and everywhere! According to stats by G.S. Gelato, 38% of restaurants that offer plant-based alternatives have added them in the last 2-3 years, and 21% have added them in the past year.
  • Non-dairy frozen dessert sales are expected to pass $1 billion worldwide by 2024, driven by more and more people adopting a plant-based lifestyle.

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • Many plant-based puddings are fresh, vegan takes on the classics, building on consumer appetite for the familiar desserts they’ve been craving since childhood - in an updated form more suitable for the modern, health-conscious, animal–free age. Zen chocolate puddings, made with almond milk, offer a plant-based take on the old favourite, for example. And alt-egg brand Oggs just entered the chilled dessert space with a vegan melt-in-the-middle sponge pudding, another update on a tried and true recipe.
  • Dessert hummus is another interesting development. Building on the public’s love for vegan dips like hummus, some brands - such as Moorish in the UK - have branched out into sweet snacks. Moorish sells chocolate hummus while Tribe in the US have also developed sweet hummus flavours in caramel, pumpkin pie and chocolate. 
  • Frozen plant-based desserts are another big niche within the category. In fact, sales of vegan ice cream have doubled in five years! Big brands opting to launch animal-free ice cream lines have also made the trend more accessible to a wider audience - remember the hype around Ben & Jerry’s dairy-free launch back in 2016? The legacy brand now has 19 vegan flavours and has been joined by a raft of young upstarts hoping to disrupt the plant-based frozen dessert space. 
  • Plant-based ice cream brands include those that are a natural follow-on from plant-based milk, like Oatly’s offering. In alternative proteins, Perfect Day recently acquired Coolhaus Ice Cream, which is now transitioning to be completely animal-free. Brave Robot has also attracted plenty of attention as the world’s first ever dairy-identical animal-free ice cream - also a Perfect Day brand.
  • Plant-based dessert brands using plant-based milks in their products can also make use of the flavour profiles of their base ingredients: Coconut Bliss plays on the natural nutty, creamy flavour of the coconut milk they use to make their products, as do Chloe’s Oatmilk Pops. And now the world has its first avocado-centric plant-based ice cream in Cado
  • Many plant-based desserts include functional ingredients, building on the consumer perception that vegan food is ‘better for you’. Simply Delish puddings are keto-certified, while Daily Harvest has launched a line of coconut ice creams with functional benefits thanks to the inclusion of ingredients like ashwagandha and probiotics. Naanu Cookies, a Swiss brand, even promise their treats provide you with 100% of your daily recommended vitamins and minerals.

👀 Who? (33 companies in this space)

Macaroons made from InnovoPro egg white alternatives. Source: Innovopro

🍨 Case study: InnovoPro

  • Israeli food-tech company InnovoPro aren’t making pudding themselves; rather they have developed an egg white alternative using chickpeas *specifically* designed for use in plant-based desserts. 
  • Known as CP-FOAM™ 1001, the product includes the company’s patented chickpea protein ingredient.
  • It’s a dry mix which can be mixed with water and sugar to conjure up a magical egg white substitute that’s fully vegan and does not require masking agents to disguise the taste. 
  • It means brands can make vegan ice-cream without common additions like lecithin, starch, carrageenan and guar gum; and the same is true for puddings - no maltodextrin or pectin needed.
  • Launched just this week, the non-GMO, clean-label ingredient is also gluten-free as well as dairy-free.
  • Plant-based puddings, ice-creams, sweet milk beverages, energy bars and baked goods are just a few of the product’s many possible applications.

🍮 ​​Case study: Noops

  • Riding the oat milk hype, plant-based pudding brand Noops’ website is full of bright colours, large text and exclamation marks, drawing on Gen Z and millennial fond recollections of similarly branded childhood puddings.
  • The brand says it’s the first organic oat milk, protein-rich pudding of its kind 
  • Available in 5 flavours, including vanilla, chocolate and pumpkin spice, the puddings are kosher and allergen-friendly with no added sugar. 
  • The oats used in the oat milk desserts are grown in Canada and certified organic.
  • Noops hones in on nostalgia in its marketing, appealing to its customers’ childhood memories of delicious sweet puddings, while reaching out to millennials with their emphasis on health and nutrition. 
  • Available online in the US via Instacart, FreshDirect and Hungryroot, the puddings are also stocked in hundreds of stores across the continental USA.
  • Investors seem pretty smitten with the vegan startup, launched by one of Hungryroot’s co founders - $2m in pre-seed funding earlier this year was followed just two months later by another $2m round.
  • Those backing the company have hailed the plant-based dessert space as the next big thing in vegan foods.
  • The startup, which - amazingly - only launched its products in early 2021, plans to use the cash to grow its distribution channels, scale up production and investigate exciting new flavours.
Oat based pudding range. Source: noops

👍 The good

  • Plant-based options in the pudding and desserts category have long been mostly limited to ice creams, while meat and seafood hogged the plant-based limelight. So innovations in the category mean a wider range of choice for vegans and flexitarians, and a chance to draw in those who may previously have written off dairy-free sweet treats. 
  • Exciting innovations in the segment, like InnovoPro’s chickpea protein egg white replacer, are making products healthier, tastier and more like the baked goods they’re often trying to imitate. Traditionally, manufacturers have had to rely on additives like potato protein (which tastes…bad!) and lecithin to make plant-based desserts taste any good. 
  • There are many opportunities in this category: it’s not just for CPG brands. Ingredient suppliers and non-dairy milk manufacturers among others have an opportunity to get involved in the segment.

👎 The bad

  • Plant-based pudding brands have to battle against long-held consumer perceptions that non-dairy or ‘better for you’ desserts can never taste as good as the ‘real’ thing.
  • Likewise, shoppers also expect sweet products that have the traditionally decadent taste afforded by dairy products like butter and milk and non-vegan ingredients like eggs. Recreating the luxurious mouthfeel of the puddings many know and love is crucial.

 💡 The bottom line

  • As more and more consumers turn to plant-based diets, for a variety of reasons, the demand for vegan desserts is only expected to grow, becoming more and more mainstream. 
  • Provided brands can perfect the texture and mouthfeel, plant-based desserts look set to become firm favourites - and not just with vegans.

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