Mondelēz launching vegan Cadbury bar

Dive Brief:

  • Mondelēz International will roll out a Cadbury Plant Bar, a plant-based vegan alternative, in the U.K. and Ireland starting next month, the company said in a statement. The product, which took more than two years to develop, retains its creamy taste by replacing the milk with almond paste. 
  • A Mondelēz spokesperson said for now it would focus on launching the Cadbury Plant Bar in these two regions, but added that the Chicago-based company could decide to eventually introduce it in the U.S.
  • The bar marks the latest launch by confectioners such as Hershey, Nestlé and Mars to enter the plant category as more consumers shift away from products made with animal-based ingredients. 

Dive Insight:

For much of the last several years, the focus on plant-based foods has largely been centered on beef, sausage and chicken. But increasingly, confectionery companies are testing out the category by launching their own products made without animal ingredients.

Abillion, a plant-based online community, has estimated plant-based chocolate represents 40% of the world’s vegan confectionery market and is currently worth $1 billion. With only 5.6% of all chocolate and fudge products in the U.S., U.K. and Australia carrying vegan label claims, according to food AI company Spoonshot, there is plenty of room left for growth.

Despite the lucrative market, sweets makers appear to be taking a very methodical approach to rolling out their vegan offerings, and Mondelēz is no exception. While the new offering could make its way to the U.S., a launch is somewhat complicated by the fact that Cadbury manufacturing in the U.S. is owned by Hershey.

Nestlé, which makes KitKats in most countries except the United States, launched a plant-based KitKat V made with rice milk during this summer, starting first in the U.K., Poland, Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. Last month, Hershey announced it was testing out a plant-based chocolate bar in some markets called Hershey’s Oat Made.

The decision to slowly roll out the new vegan sweets could allow these and other food manufacturers to collect consumer feedback and determine whether they need to make any changes to the recipe. For many consumers, switching to plant-based offerings from those made with animal ingredients is stymied by the fact that the new products lack the taste and texture they’ve come to expect. 

Mondelēz’s new bar, which is available in two flavors, Smooth Chocolate and Smooth Chocolate with Salted Caramel pieces, is suitable for vegans and is registered by the Vegan Society, the company said.

“The increasing public appetite for varied snacking options and plant-based alternatives has never been more apparent,” said Louise Stigant, U.K. managing director for the maker of Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers and Milka chocolate. “At Mondelēz, evolving consumer demands have long informed our ambition to provide a wide range of products that work for everyone and the new Cadbury Plant Bar range is the latest stop on this journey.”

The company is not only tapping into the growing demand for vegan items, but also the increased interest among consumers in products that are produced in a more sustainable way. The Cadbury Plant Bar will be wrapped in 100% plant-based packaging made from biosourced plastics from renewable sources.

The new bar is the latest launch for Mondelēz that prioritizes giving consumers more choices, especially when it comes to better-for-you eating. In recent years, the snacking giant has launched Cadbury Dairy Milk with 30% less sugar and an extension on BelVita, its breakfast biscuit brand, with 40% less of the sweetener.