Vegan Chocolate: A look into the 20+ brands making your favorite chocolates, animal-free

Vegan Chocolate: A look into the 20+ brands making your favorite chocolates, animal-free

By
Louise Burfitt
October 19, 2021

🍫 What is it?

  • Gone plant-based, and missing your chocolate fix? Luckily for you, there’s a rising tide of vegan chocolate brands shunning dairy to bring sweet-toothed shoppers their cocoa-based fix. 
  • And what once was a niche market is becoming increasingly popular, with the growth of the plant-based chocolate market expected to outpace the growth of traditional milk chocolate, and be worth $1bn in 6 years’ time. 

🤔 Tell me more…

  • Vegan chocolate isn’t exactly new - dark and cooking chocolate, which have a high cacao content, are incidentally vegan, except when milk-based additives are included. 
  • But vegans started to demand better options and a wider choice. What about dairy-free milk chocolate? Why should they have to settle for a dull, bitter bar of cooking chocolate
  • Step in the brands upping their game in the plant-based chocolate wars, who are battling it out with the big names to bring vegan chocolate to the masses

📈 The figures

  • The plant-based chocolate market worldwide will reach $1bn by 2027, estimates say, growing at a CAGR of 12.3%
  • Some 40% of the vegan confectionery market is given over to chocolate, a market currently valued at $467.2m.

🤷‍♂️ Why?

  • The plant-based phenomenon that’s swept across western countries in recent years has left few stones unturned, so it makes sense that the chocolate industry is taking notes. Growing numbers of consumers identify as fully vegan, while yet more are occasional dabblers in a plant-based lifestyle. Vegan chocolate brands hope they’ll scoop up customers from both demographics.
  • Health could also play a factor: while chocolate is clearly an indulgence, darker chocolates with higher cacao content and/or plant-based ingredients that can be less fatty than cow’s milk and cream are tempting health-conscious consumers to give vegan alternatives a go. 
  • And conventional chocolate has been beset by controversy, like the meat and dairy industries before it, thanks to child exploitation claims, unsustainable farming methods and deforestation. Startups producing vegan chocolate are usually also styling themselves as more ethical and planet-friendly (for good reason) which should appeal to sustainably-minded consumers. 

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • When big-name brands like Ritter, Galaxy and KitKat launch vegan chocolate bars, is it time to say what was once a niche trend has gone mainstream? Confectionery giant Cadbury’s is also launching a vegan bar - and even the packaging is plant-based. The almond-based Cadbury’s Plant Bar will go on sale in selected stores next month before a wider rollout early next year.
  • In recent years, the big shift in the vegan chocolate market has been the growth of milk chocolate alternatives. Dark chocolate is generally ‘accidentally vegan’, but milk chocolate relies on dairy to achieve its signature rich and creamy taste. 
  • Vegan chocolate made with oat milk is a sizable market, propelled by the increased popularity of oat milk more generally. Big brands like Hershey’s and Lindt have released oat milk versions of their popular products, while startups like Endangered Species in the USA, HiP Chocolate in the UK and Luker Chocolate in Colombia are also making oat milk indulgences. 
  • Other brands are using different plant-based milks in place of cow’s milk: UK chain Hotel Chocolat sells hazelnut milk chocolate, while startup Fellow Creatures have plumped for creamed coconut in their plant-based bars, citing its superior flavour and texture.
  • Several brands are targeting the ‘premium’ market, with an emphasis on ethics, high-quality ingredients (lecithin be gone!) and a price tag to match. Solkiki, for example, make micro-batches of bean-to-bar chocolate that is tempered by hand.
  • There’s even a market for B2b based companies like Linnolat in France that supply their premium vegan chocolates to brands and chefs across Europe.

👀 Who? (26 companies in this space)

  • Alter Eco (selection of plant-based bars and clusters, USA)
  • Chocolove (premium vegan chocolate, USA)
  • CRAVE Free From (vegan, free-from chocolate, UK)
  • Endangered Species (range of oat milk chocolates, USA)
  • Enjoy (organic, raw, vegan chocolates, UK)
  • Evolved (paleo and vegan chocolates, USA)
  • Fellow Creatures (coconut cream chocolate, UK)
  • Happi (oat milk chocolate bars, UK)
  • HiP Chocolate (oat milk chocolate bar, UK)
  • Hu (chocolate line with several vegan bars, USA)
  • iChoc (vegan chocolate, Germany)
  • Lindt & Sprüngli (vegan oat milk chocolate range, Germany) 
  • Linnolat (vegan chocolate for B2b, France)
  • Luker Chocolate (oat milk chocolate, Colombia)
  • Montezuma (chocolate brand with a vegan line, UK) 
  • Nomo (fully vegan chocolate brand, UK)
  • OMBAR (bean to bar, includes a vegan line, UK)
  • Piperleaf (vegan milk chocolate alternative, India)
  • QOA (molecular animal-free chocolate, Germany)
  • Raaka (single-origin cacao dark chocolate, USA) 
  • Rhythm 108 (Swiss m*lk chocolate, Switzerland)
  • Solkiki (micro-batches of premium vegan chocolate, UK)
  • Trupo Treats (vegan milkless chocolate, USA)
  • Tonys Chocolonley (sustainably sourced, includes a vegan line, Netherlands)
  • Vego (vegan, organic, fairtrade chocolates, Italy)
  • Veganz (complete vegan line including chocolates, Germany)

🧪 Case study: QOA

  • Lab-grown meat? Sure, you’ve heard of it. But what about lab-grown chocolate?
  • German startup QOA is building 100% cocoa-free chocolate in Munich that’s fully plant-based.
  • This is achieved using precision fermentation, with the building-block ingredients fermented and reassembled in large brewing tanks, before being roasted and dried like normal cocoa. 
  • The startup, run by a pair of siblings, is driven by ethical and environmental concerns, given issues in cocoa farming and the amount of water and land needed to produce at current rates.
  • Their aim is ‘to do for chocolate what Oatly did for milk’ and QOA claims that their cocoa-free chocolate is 10 times more sustainable and 20% cheaper to produce when compared to your average chocolate bar. 
  • QOA founder Sara Marquet noted that product-market-fit still needs to be demonstrated as consumers are taught that the higher the % of cocoa the better - which goes against the cocoa-free nature of their products.
  • QOA’s ambitious aim is to replace all of the cocoa in mass-produced chocolate with its own lab-grown alternative within a decade. And they’re already in talks with major chocolate brands and have quietly raised funding from a group of powerhouse foodtech VC's, so maybe it’s not so ambitious after all… 

🥥 Case study: Fellow Creatures 

  • UK startup Fellow Creatures have created a milk chocolate alternative without dairy, that’s fully suitable for vegans. 
  • Founded in London in 2019 and now based in Edinburgh, the brand is working to bring milk chocolate alternatives to the masses. 
  • The brand plays on childhood nostalgia and aims to recreate the milky creaminess of conventional milk chocolate in a fun, cartoon-inspired plant-based package.
  • The bars come in five flavour ways - creamy hazelnut, white choc raspberry, salted caramel, white choc matcha and classic - and aim to win over non-vegans too. 
  • Milk is substituted with creamed coconut in place of dairy, which imparts an incredibly creamy taste and mouthfeel.
  • Having recently won new funding of £450,000, the bars are now for sale in UK supermarket Sainsbury’s and WH Smith travel outlets.

👍The good

  • The growth of milk chocolate alternatives is great news for plant-based consumers longing for a taste of their favourite childhood treats. 
  • It’s also good news for the planet: dairy production is a big climate culprit, and a big contributor to the chocolate industry. Given the huge appetite for chocolate in Europe and the US, even just some consumers making the switch some of the time could help make a difference. 
  • And as vegan bars tend to be more sustainably-minded, many plant-based chocolate brands are also putting in the effort when it comes to ethics, the environment and emissions. 

👎 The bad

  • Data reveals that just 5.6% of chocolate products come with a vegan claim in the US, UK and Ozzie markets, but that also means this market is ripe for disruption, with room for newer brands to grow. 
  • The perception around taste among consumers won’t necessarily be easy to overcome: plenty of chocolate fiends will assume that plant-based alternatives just won’t taste as good. Brands will need to overturn these presumptions with samples, education and convincing messaging on the benefits of plant-based chocolate. 
  • Improving the taste, texture and mouthfeel of plant-based chocolate products should, for that reason, be a priority, and there’s certainly room for improvement. 
  • In many countries, conventional chocolate bars are cheap as chips: due to the innovative tech involved in some plant-based confectionery production and the use of premium ingredients, vegan chocolate is generally more expensive - and it’s unclear whether average, non-vegan consumers will be persuaded to shell out more for their favorite treats. 

 💡The bottom line

  • Vegan chocolate is a growing market, particularly in the plant-based milk chocolate niche.
  • But it’s not just for diehard PETA members: brands, both large and small, are hoping to win over vegetarians, flexitarians and climate-conscious consumers with their plant-based, ethical chocolate that’s only getting tastier as time goes on.
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🍫 What is it?

  • Gone plant-based, and missing your chocolate fix? Luckily for you, there’s a rising tide of vegan chocolate brands shunning dairy to bring sweet-toothed shoppers their cocoa-based fix. 
  • And what once was a niche market is becoming increasingly popular, with the growth of the plant-based chocolate market expected to outpace the growth of traditional milk chocolate, and be worth $1bn in 6 years’ time. 

🤔 Tell me more…

  • Vegan chocolate isn’t exactly new - dark and cooking chocolate, which have a high cacao content, are incidentally vegan, except when milk-based additives are included. 
  • But vegans started to demand better options and a wider choice. What about dairy-free milk chocolate? Why should they have to settle for a dull, bitter bar of cooking chocolate
  • Step in the brands upping their game in the plant-based chocolate wars, who are battling it out with the big names to bring vegan chocolate to the masses

📈 The figures

  • The plant-based chocolate market worldwide will reach $1bn by 2027, estimates say, growing at a CAGR of 12.3%
  • Some 40% of the vegan confectionery market is given over to chocolate, a market currently valued at $467.2m.

🤷‍♂️ Why?

  • The plant-based phenomenon that’s swept across western countries in recent years has left few stones unturned, so it makes sense that the chocolate industry is taking notes. Growing numbers of consumers identify as fully vegan, while yet more are occasional dabblers in a plant-based lifestyle. Vegan chocolate brands hope they’ll scoop up customers from both demographics.
  • Health could also play a factor: while chocolate is clearly an indulgence, darker chocolates with higher cacao content and/or plant-based ingredients that can be less fatty than cow’s milk and cream are tempting health-conscious consumers to give vegan alternatives a go. 
  • And conventional chocolate has been beset by controversy, like the meat and dairy industries before it, thanks to child exploitation claims, unsustainable farming methods and deforestation. Startups producing vegan chocolate are usually also styling themselves as more ethical and planet-friendly (for good reason) which should appeal to sustainably-minded consumers. 

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • When big-name brands like Ritter, Galaxy and KitKat launch vegan chocolate bars, is it time to say what was once a niche trend has gone mainstream? Confectionery giant Cadbury’s is also launching a vegan bar - and even the packaging is plant-based. The almond-based Cadbury’s Plant Bar will go on sale in selected stores next month before a wider rollout early next year.
  • In recent years, the big shift in the vegan chocolate market has been the growth of milk chocolate alternatives. Dark chocolate is generally ‘accidentally vegan’, but milk chocolate relies on dairy to achieve its signature rich and creamy taste. 
  • Vegan chocolate made with oat milk is a sizable market, propelled by the increased popularity of oat milk more generally. Big brands like Hershey’s and Lindt have released oat milk versions of their popular products, while startups like Endangered Species in the USA, HiP Chocolate in the UK and Luker Chocolate in Colombia are also making oat milk indulgences. 
  • Other brands are using different plant-based milks in place of cow’s milk: UK chain Hotel Chocolat sells hazelnut milk chocolate, while startup Fellow Creatures have plumped for creamed coconut in their plant-based bars, citing its superior flavour and texture.
  • Several brands are targeting the ‘premium’ market, with an emphasis on ethics, high-quality ingredients (lecithin be gone!) and a price tag to match. Solkiki, for example, make micro-batches of bean-to-bar chocolate that is tempered by hand.
  • There’s even a market for B2b based companies like Linnolat in France that supply their premium vegan chocolates to brands and chefs across Europe.

👀 Who? (26 companies in this space)

  • Alter Eco (selection of plant-based bars and clusters, USA)
  • Chocolove (premium vegan chocolate, USA)
  • CRAVE Free From (vegan, free-from chocolate, UK)
  • Endangered Species (range of oat milk chocolates, USA)
  • Enjoy (organic, raw, vegan chocolates, UK)
  • Evolved (paleo and vegan chocolates, USA)
  • Fellow Creatures (coconut cream chocolate, UK)
  • Happi (oat milk chocolate bars, UK)
  • HiP Chocolate (oat milk chocolate bar, UK)
  • Hu (chocolate line with several vegan bars, USA)
  • iChoc (vegan chocolate, Germany)
  • Lindt & Sprüngli (vegan oat milk chocolate range, Germany) 
  • Linnolat (vegan chocolate for B2b, France)
  • Luker Chocolate (oat milk chocolate, Colombia)
  • Montezuma (chocolate brand with a vegan line, UK) 
  • Nomo (fully vegan chocolate brand, UK)
  • OMBAR (bean to bar, includes a vegan line, UK)
  • Piperleaf (vegan milk chocolate alternative, India)
  • QOA (molecular animal-free chocolate, Germany)
  • Raaka (single-origin cacao dark chocolate, USA) 
  • Rhythm 108 (Swiss m*lk chocolate, Switzerland)
  • Solkiki (micro-batches of premium vegan chocolate, UK)
  • Trupo Treats (vegan milkless chocolate, USA)
  • Tonys Chocolonley (sustainably sourced, includes a vegan line, Netherlands)
  • Vego (vegan, organic, fairtrade chocolates, Italy)
  • Veganz (complete vegan line including chocolates, Germany)

🧪 Case study: QOA

  • Lab-grown meat? Sure, you’ve heard of it. But what about lab-grown chocolate?
  • German startup QOA is building 100% cocoa-free chocolate in Munich that’s fully plant-based.
  • This is achieved using precision fermentation, with the building-block ingredients fermented and reassembled in large brewing tanks, before being roasted and dried like normal cocoa. 
  • The startup, run by a pair of siblings, is driven by ethical and environmental concerns, given issues in cocoa farming and the amount of water and land needed to produce at current rates.
  • Their aim is ‘to do for chocolate what Oatly did for milk’ and QOA claims that their cocoa-free chocolate is 10 times more sustainable and 20% cheaper to produce when compared to your average chocolate bar. 
  • QOA founder Sara Marquet noted that product-market-fit still needs to be demonstrated as consumers are taught that the higher the % of cocoa the better - which goes against the cocoa-free nature of their products.
  • QOA’s ambitious aim is to replace all of the cocoa in mass-produced chocolate with its own lab-grown alternative within a decade. And they’re already in talks with major chocolate brands and have quietly raised funding from a group of powerhouse foodtech VC's, so maybe it’s not so ambitious after all… 

🥥 Case study: Fellow Creatures 

  • UK startup Fellow Creatures have created a milk chocolate alternative without dairy, that’s fully suitable for vegans. 
  • Founded in London in 2019 and now based in Edinburgh, the brand is working to bring milk chocolate alternatives to the masses. 
  • The brand plays on childhood nostalgia and aims to recreate the milky creaminess of conventional milk chocolate in a fun, cartoon-inspired plant-based package.
  • The bars come in five flavour ways - creamy hazelnut, white choc raspberry, salted caramel, white choc matcha and classic - and aim to win over non-vegans too. 
  • Milk is substituted with creamed coconut in place of dairy, which imparts an incredibly creamy taste and mouthfeel.
  • Having recently won new funding of £450,000, the bars are now for sale in UK supermarket Sainsbury’s and WH Smith travel outlets.

👍The good

  • The growth of milk chocolate alternatives is great news for plant-based consumers longing for a taste of their favourite childhood treats. 
  • It’s also good news for the planet: dairy production is a big climate culprit, and a big contributor to the chocolate industry. Given the huge appetite for chocolate in Europe and the US, even just some consumers making the switch some of the time could help make a difference. 
  • And as vegan bars tend to be more sustainably-minded, many plant-based chocolate brands are also putting in the effort when it comes to ethics, the environment and emissions. 

👎 The bad

  • Data reveals that just 5.6% of chocolate products come with a vegan claim in the US, UK and Ozzie markets, but that also means this market is ripe for disruption, with room for newer brands to grow. 
  • The perception around taste among consumers won’t necessarily be easy to overcome: plenty of chocolate fiends will assume that plant-based alternatives just won’t taste as good. Brands will need to overturn these presumptions with samples, education and convincing messaging on the benefits of plant-based chocolate. 
  • Improving the taste, texture and mouthfeel of plant-based chocolate products should, for that reason, be a priority, and there’s certainly room for improvement. 
  • In many countries, conventional chocolate bars are cheap as chips: due to the innovative tech involved in some plant-based confectionery production and the use of premium ingredients, vegan chocolate is generally more expensive - and it’s unclear whether average, non-vegan consumers will be persuaded to shell out more for their favorite treats. 

 💡The bottom line

  • Vegan chocolate is a growing market, particularly in the plant-based milk chocolate niche.
  • But it’s not just for diehard PETA members: brands, both large and small, are hoping to win over vegetarians, flexitarians and climate-conscious consumers with their plant-based, ethical chocolate that’s only getting tastier as time goes on.

🍫 What is it?

  • Gone plant-based, and missing your chocolate fix? Luckily for you, there’s a rising tide of vegan chocolate brands shunning dairy to bring sweet-toothed shoppers their cocoa-based fix. 
  • And what once was a niche market is becoming increasingly popular, with the growth of the plant-based chocolate market expected to outpace the growth of traditional milk chocolate, and be worth $1bn in 6 years’ time. 

🤔 Tell me more…

  • Vegan chocolate isn’t exactly new - dark and cooking chocolate, which have a high cacao content, are incidentally vegan, except when milk-based additives are included. 
  • But vegans started to demand better options and a wider choice. What about dairy-free milk chocolate? Why should they have to settle for a dull, bitter bar of cooking chocolate
  • Step in the brands upping their game in the plant-based chocolate wars, who are battling it out with the big names to bring vegan chocolate to the masses

📈 The figures

  • The plant-based chocolate market worldwide will reach $1bn by 2027, estimates say, growing at a CAGR of 12.3%
  • Some 40% of the vegan confectionery market is given over to chocolate, a market currently valued at $467.2m.

🤷‍♂️ Why?

  • The plant-based phenomenon that’s swept across western countries in recent years has left few stones unturned, so it makes sense that the chocolate industry is taking notes. Growing numbers of consumers identify as fully vegan, while yet more are occasional dabblers in a plant-based lifestyle. Vegan chocolate brands hope they’ll scoop up customers from both demographics.
  • Health could also play a factor: while chocolate is clearly an indulgence, darker chocolates with higher cacao content and/or plant-based ingredients that can be less fatty than cow’s milk and cream are tempting health-conscious consumers to give vegan alternatives a go. 
  • And conventional chocolate has been beset by controversy, like the meat and dairy industries before it, thanks to child exploitation claims, unsustainable farming methods and deforestation. Startups producing vegan chocolate are usually also styling themselves as more ethical and planet-friendly (for good reason) which should appeal to sustainably-minded consumers. 

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • When big-name brands like Ritter, Galaxy and KitKat launch vegan chocolate bars, is it time to say what was once a niche trend has gone mainstream? Confectionery giant Cadbury’s is also launching a vegan bar - and even the packaging is plant-based. The almond-based Cadbury’s Plant Bar will go on sale in selected stores next month before a wider rollout early next year.
  • In recent years, the big shift in the vegan chocolate market has been the growth of milk chocolate alternatives. Dark chocolate is generally ‘accidentally vegan’, but milk chocolate relies on dairy to achieve its signature rich and creamy taste. 
  • Vegan chocolate made with oat milk is a sizable market, propelled by the increased popularity of oat milk more generally. Big brands like Hershey’s and Lindt have released oat milk versions of their popular products, while startups like Endangered Species in the USA, HiP Chocolate in the UK and Luker Chocolate in Colombia are also making oat milk indulgences. 
  • Other brands are using different plant-based milks in place of cow’s milk: UK chain Hotel Chocolat sells hazelnut milk chocolate, while startup Fellow Creatures have plumped for creamed coconut in their plant-based bars, citing its superior flavour and texture.
  • Several brands are targeting the ‘premium’ market, with an emphasis on ethics, high-quality ingredients (lecithin be gone!) and a price tag to match. Solkiki, for example, make micro-batches of bean-to-bar chocolate that is tempered by hand.
  • There’s even a market for B2b based companies like Linnolat in France that supply their premium vegan chocolates to brands and chefs across Europe.

👀 Who? (26 companies in this space)

  • Alter Eco (selection of plant-based bars and clusters, USA)
  • Chocolove (premium vegan chocolate, USA)
  • CRAVE Free From (vegan, free-from chocolate, UK)
  • Endangered Species (range of oat milk chocolates, USA)
  • Enjoy (organic, raw, vegan chocolates, UK)
  • Evolved (paleo and vegan chocolates, USA)
  • Fellow Creatures (coconut cream chocolate, UK)
  • Happi (oat milk chocolate bars, UK)
  • HiP Chocolate (oat milk chocolate bar, UK)
  • Hu (chocolate line with several vegan bars, USA)
  • iChoc (vegan chocolate, Germany)
  • Lindt & Sprüngli (vegan oat milk chocolate range, Germany) 
  • Linnolat (vegan chocolate for B2b, France)
  • Luker Chocolate (oat milk chocolate, Colombia)
  • Montezuma (chocolate brand with a vegan line, UK) 
  • Nomo (fully vegan chocolate brand, UK)
  • OMBAR (bean to bar, includes a vegan line, UK)
  • Piperleaf (vegan milk chocolate alternative, India)
  • QOA (molecular animal-free chocolate, Germany)
  • Raaka (single-origin cacao dark chocolate, USA) 
  • Rhythm 108 (Swiss m*lk chocolate, Switzerland)
  • Solkiki (micro-batches of premium vegan chocolate, UK)
  • Trupo Treats (vegan milkless chocolate, USA)
  • Tonys Chocolonley (sustainably sourced, includes a vegan line, Netherlands)
  • Vego (vegan, organic, fairtrade chocolates, Italy)
  • Veganz (complete vegan line including chocolates, Germany)

🧪 Case study: QOA

  • Lab-grown meat? Sure, you’ve heard of it. But what about lab-grown chocolate?
  • German startup QOA is building 100% cocoa-free chocolate in Munich that’s fully plant-based.
  • This is achieved using precision fermentation, with the building-block ingredients fermented and reassembled in large brewing tanks, before being roasted and dried like normal cocoa. 
  • The startup, run by a pair of siblings, is driven by ethical and environmental concerns, given issues in cocoa farming and the amount of water and land needed to produce at current rates.
  • Their aim is ‘to do for chocolate what Oatly did for milk’ and QOA claims that their cocoa-free chocolate is 10 times more sustainable and 20% cheaper to produce when compared to your average chocolate bar. 
  • QOA founder Sara Marquet noted that product-market-fit still needs to be demonstrated as consumers are taught that the higher the % of cocoa the better - which goes against the cocoa-free nature of their products.
  • QOA’s ambitious aim is to replace all of the cocoa in mass-produced chocolate with its own lab-grown alternative within a decade. And they’re already in talks with major chocolate brands and have quietly raised funding from a group of powerhouse foodtech VC's, so maybe it’s not so ambitious after all… 

🥥 Case study: Fellow Creatures 

  • UK startup Fellow Creatures have created a milk chocolate alternative without dairy, that’s fully suitable for vegans. 
  • Founded in London in 2019 and now based in Edinburgh, the brand is working to bring milk chocolate alternatives to the masses. 
  • The brand plays on childhood nostalgia and aims to recreate the milky creaminess of conventional milk chocolate in a fun, cartoon-inspired plant-based package.
  • The bars come in five flavour ways - creamy hazelnut, white choc raspberry, salted caramel, white choc matcha and classic - and aim to win over non-vegans too. 
  • Milk is substituted with creamed coconut in place of dairy, which imparts an incredibly creamy taste and mouthfeel.
  • Having recently won new funding of £450,000, the bars are now for sale in UK supermarket Sainsbury’s and WH Smith travel outlets.

👍The good

  • The growth of milk chocolate alternatives is great news for plant-based consumers longing for a taste of their favourite childhood treats. 
  • It’s also good news for the planet: dairy production is a big climate culprit, and a big contributor to the chocolate industry. Given the huge appetite for chocolate in Europe and the US, even just some consumers making the switch some of the time could help make a difference. 
  • And as vegan bars tend to be more sustainably-minded, many plant-based chocolate brands are also putting in the effort when it comes to ethics, the environment and emissions. 

👎 The bad

  • Data reveals that just 5.6% of chocolate products come with a vegan claim in the US, UK and Ozzie markets, but that also means this market is ripe for disruption, with room for newer brands to grow. 
  • The perception around taste among consumers won’t necessarily be easy to overcome: plenty of chocolate fiends will assume that plant-based alternatives just won’t taste as good. Brands will need to overturn these presumptions with samples, education and convincing messaging on the benefits of plant-based chocolate. 
  • Improving the taste, texture and mouthfeel of plant-based chocolate products should, for that reason, be a priority, and there’s certainly room for improvement. 
  • In many countries, conventional chocolate bars are cheap as chips: due to the innovative tech involved in some plant-based confectionery production and the use of premium ingredients, vegan chocolate is generally more expensive - and it’s unclear whether average, non-vegan consumers will be persuaded to shell out more for their favorite treats. 

 💡The bottom line

  • Vegan chocolate is a growing market, particularly in the plant-based milk chocolate niche.
  • But it’s not just for diehard PETA members: brands, both large and small, are hoping to win over vegetarians, flexitarians and climate-conscious consumers with their plant-based, ethical chocolate that’s only getting tastier as time goes on.

🍫 What is it?

  • Gone plant-based, and missing your chocolate fix? Luckily for you, there’s a rising tide of vegan chocolate brands shunning dairy to bring sweet-toothed shoppers their cocoa-based fix. 
  • And what once was a niche market is becoming increasingly popular, with the growth of the plant-based chocolate market expected to outpace the growth of traditional milk chocolate, and be worth $1bn in 6 years’ time. 

🤔 Tell me more…

  • Vegan chocolate isn’t exactly new - dark and cooking chocolate, which have a high cacao content, are incidentally vegan, except when milk-based additives are included. 
  • But vegans started to demand better options and a wider choice. What about dairy-free milk chocolate? Why should they have to settle for a dull, bitter bar of cooking chocolate
  • Step in the brands upping their game in the plant-based chocolate wars, who are battling it out with the big names to bring vegan chocolate to the masses

📈 The figures

  • The plant-based chocolate market worldwide will reach $1bn by 2027, estimates say, growing at a CAGR of 12.3%
  • Some 40% of the vegan confectionery market is given over to chocolate, a market currently valued at $467.2m.

🤷‍♂️ Why?

  • The plant-based phenomenon that’s swept across western countries in recent years has left few stones unturned, so it makes sense that the chocolate industry is taking notes. Growing numbers of consumers identify as fully vegan, while yet more are occasional dabblers in a plant-based lifestyle. Vegan chocolate brands hope they’ll scoop up customers from both demographics.
  • Health could also play a factor: while chocolate is clearly an indulgence, darker chocolates with higher cacao content and/or plant-based ingredients that can be less fatty than cow’s milk and cream are tempting health-conscious consumers to give vegan alternatives a go. 
  • And conventional chocolate has been beset by controversy, like the meat and dairy industries before it, thanks to child exploitation claims, unsustainable farming methods and deforestation. Startups producing vegan chocolate are usually also styling themselves as more ethical and planet-friendly (for good reason) which should appeal to sustainably-minded consumers. 

🔍 How is it shaping up?

  • When big-name brands like Ritter, Galaxy and KitKat launch vegan chocolate bars, is it time to say what was once a niche trend has gone mainstream? Confectionery giant Cadbury’s is also launching a vegan bar - and even the packaging is plant-based. The almond-based Cadbury’s Plant Bar will go on sale in selected stores next month before a wider rollout early next year.
  • In recent years, the big shift in the vegan chocolate market has been the growth of milk chocolate alternatives. Dark chocolate is generally ‘accidentally vegan’, but milk chocolate relies on dairy to achieve its signature rich and creamy taste. 
  • Vegan chocolate made with oat milk is a sizable market, propelled by the increased popularity of oat milk more generally. Big brands like Hershey’s and Lindt have released oat milk versions of their popular products, while startups like Endangered Species in the USA, HiP Chocolate in the UK and Luker Chocolate in Colombia are also making oat milk indulgences. 
  • Other brands are using different plant-based milks in place of cow’s milk: UK chain Hotel Chocolat sells hazelnut milk chocolate, while startup Fellow Creatures have plumped for creamed coconut in their plant-based bars, citing its superior flavour and texture.
  • Several brands are targeting the ‘premium’ market, with an emphasis on ethics, high-quality ingredients (lecithin be gone!) and a price tag to match. Solkiki, for example, make micro-batches of bean-to-bar chocolate that is tempered by hand.
  • There’s even a market for B2b based companies like Linnolat in France that supply their premium vegan chocolates to brands and chefs across Europe.

👀 Who? (26 companies in this space)

  • Alter Eco (selection of plant-based bars and clusters, USA)
  • Chocolove (premium vegan chocolate, USA)
  • CRAVE Free From (vegan, free-from chocolate, UK)
  • Endangered Species (range of oat milk chocolates, USA)
  • Enjoy (organic, raw, vegan chocolates, UK)
  • Evolved (paleo and vegan chocolates, USA)
  • Fellow Creatures (coconut cream chocolate, UK)
  • Happi (oat milk chocolate bars, UK)
  • HiP Chocolate (oat milk chocolate bar, UK)
  • Hu (chocolate line with several vegan bars, USA)
  • iChoc (vegan chocolate, Germany)
  • Lindt & Sprüngli (vegan oat milk chocolate range, Germany) 
  • Linnolat (vegan chocolate for B2b, France)
  • Luker Chocolate (oat milk chocolate, Colombia)
  • Montezuma (chocolate brand with a vegan line, UK) 
  • Nomo (fully vegan chocolate brand, UK)
  • OMBAR (bean to bar, includes a vegan line, UK)
  • Piperleaf (vegan milk chocolate alternative, India)
  • QOA (molecular animal-free chocolate, Germany)
  • Raaka (single-origin cacao dark chocolate, USA) 
  • Rhythm 108 (Swiss m*lk chocolate, Switzerland)
  • Solkiki (micro-batches of premium vegan chocolate, UK)
  • Trupo Treats (vegan milkless chocolate, USA)
  • Tonys Chocolonley (sustainably sourced, includes a vegan line, Netherlands)
  • Vego (vegan, organic, fairtrade chocolates, Italy)
  • Veganz (complete vegan line including chocolates, Germany)

🧪 Case study: QOA

  • Lab-grown meat? Sure, you’ve heard of it. But what about lab-grown chocolate?
  • German startup QOA is building 100% cocoa-free chocolate in Munich that’s fully plant-based.
  • This is achieved using precision fermentation, with the building-block ingredients fermented and reassembled in large brewing tanks, before being roasted and dried like normal cocoa. 
  • The startup, run by a pair of siblings, is driven by ethical and environmental concerns, given issues in cocoa farming and the amount of water and land needed to produce at current rates.
  • Their aim is ‘to do for chocolate what Oatly did for milk’ and QOA claims that their cocoa-free chocolate is 10 times more sustainable and 20% cheaper to produce when compared to your average chocolate bar. 
  • QOA founder Sara Marquet noted that product-market-fit still needs to be demonstrated as consumers are taught that the higher the % of cocoa the better - which goes against the cocoa-free nature of their products.
  • QOA’s ambitious aim is to replace all of the cocoa in mass-produced chocolate with its own lab-grown alternative within a decade. And they’re already in talks with major chocolate brands and have quietly raised funding from a group of powerhouse foodtech VC's, so maybe it’s not so ambitious after all… 

🥥 Case study: Fellow Creatures 

  • UK startup Fellow Creatures have created a milk chocolate alternative without dairy, that’s fully suitable for vegans. 
  • Founded in London in 2019 and now based in Edinburgh, the brand is working to bring milk chocolate alternatives to the masses. 
  • The brand plays on childhood nostalgia and aims to recreate the milky creaminess of conventional milk chocolate in a fun, cartoon-inspired plant-based package.
  • The bars come in five flavour ways - creamy hazelnut, white choc raspberry, salted caramel, white choc matcha and classic - and aim to win over non-vegans too. 
  • Milk is substituted with creamed coconut in place of dairy, which imparts an incredibly creamy taste and mouthfeel.
  • Having recently won new funding of £450,000, the bars are now for sale in UK supermarket Sainsbury’s and WH Smith travel outlets.

👍The good

  • The growth of milk chocolate alternatives is great news for plant-based consumers longing for a taste of their favourite childhood treats. 
  • It’s also good news for the planet: dairy production is a big climate culprit, and a big contributor to the chocolate industry. Given the huge appetite for chocolate in Europe and the US, even just some consumers making the switch some of the time could help make a difference. 
  • And as vegan bars tend to be more sustainably-minded, many plant-based chocolate brands are also putting in the effort when it comes to ethics, the environment and emissions. 

👎 The bad

  • Data reveals that just 5.6% of chocolate products come with a vegan claim in the US, UK and Ozzie markets, but that also means this market is ripe for disruption, with room for newer brands to grow. 
  • The perception around taste among consumers won’t necessarily be easy to overcome: plenty of chocolate fiends will assume that plant-based alternatives just won’t taste as good. Brands will need to overturn these presumptions with samples, education and convincing messaging on the benefits of plant-based chocolate. 
  • Improving the taste, texture and mouthfeel of plant-based chocolate products should, for that reason, be a priority, and there’s certainly room for improvement. 
  • In many countries, conventional chocolate bars are cheap as chips: due to the innovative tech involved in some plant-based confectionery production and the use of premium ingredients, vegan chocolate is generally more expensive - and it’s unclear whether average, non-vegan consumers will be persuaded to shell out more for their favorite treats. 

 💡The bottom line

  • Vegan chocolate is a growing market, particularly in the plant-based milk chocolate niche.
  • But it’s not just for diehard PETA members: brands, both large and small, are hoping to win over vegetarians, flexitarians and climate-conscious consumers with their plant-based, ethical chocolate that’s only getting tastier as time goes on.
Weekly FoodTech Insights

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Vegan Chocolate: A look into the 20+ brands making your favorite chocolates, animal-free
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