As sweet as vegan pie – if you get it right
Jacqui Passmore, Marketing Manager UK and Ireland at Dawn Foods, writes about the opportunities and technical challenges of manufacturing vegan sweet bakery products.
Vegan baking can be tricky...but rewarding if you get it right!
A record number of people are now swapping to or trying vegan food. According to The Vegan Society, over half of Brits (56 percent) exhibit vegan buying behaviour and that includes following a vegan, vegetarian or flexitarian diet. Furthermore, Grand View Research1 report that the global vegan baking ingredients market size was valued at $1.1 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow at a CAGR of 5.6 percent between 2019 and 2025. Recent research by Finder.com2 also uncovered that approximately 1.6 million people in the UK are currently vegan (three percent) – a number which is rising rapidly.
Innova research shows there is a 65 percent increase, compared to 2017, in supermarket sweet bakery product launches with vegan claims. Additionally, demand from our own customers across all channels (from manufacturer to high street bakery retail) for vegan alternatives demonstrates that it is a market on the up.
Reformulation and ingredients
Reformulating products, as with vegan sweet bakery products, can present a significant challenge, as it is vital to maintain the all-important mouthfeel experience and ensure that the product delivers on taste. Vegan sweet bakery products are becoming the ‘new normal’ and, instead of differentiating between vegan and non-vegan, we are now seeing manufacturers offering the same delicious products to all consumer diets, whether plant-based or not.
Bakery ingredients manufacturers like Dawn Foods have worked hard to produce some innovative vegan options for manufacturers, to ensure that finished vegan products perform as well as their regular counterparts. Ingredient innovation has improved and availability of vegan alternatives, plant-based ingredients and starches, for example, has resulted in the production of sweet, soft eating, moist vegan bakery items that are equal to their regular counterparts.
Many consumers are also seeking plant-based finished bakery products with clean, functional ingredients and added protein and fibre. We anticipate a trend towards using more vegetables, such as carrot and beetroot, in bakery for added sweetness given that vegetables have a lower sugar content than fruit and are, of course, vegan friendly.
Ancient grains with their rustic, less processed image will be important too, along with raw ingredients, which are perceived as less processed and thus better for you.
Ingredients such as aquafaba (water from chickpeas) are now used as a vegan alternative to liquid egg and can also be used to create meringues, for example. The continued research into fruit and vegetables as substitutes to non-vegan ingredients in sweet bakery will continue in the future. I foresee milk alternatives (eg, oat, soya, almond, cashew) gaining even greater popularity and becoming more readily available in the market.
The challenge of taste and texture of vegan bakes
Substituting ingredients from a standard bakery recipe (egg, milk, butter), which aid in the development process of the dough/batter, will always create challenges for the texture and taste of the final product. Without proper substitute ingredients, the texture of a bake could become dense, grainy, tasteless, or have an unpleasant aftertaste.
Common ingredients like chai, flax or psyllium husks are ones to keep an eye on, as they can be used in vegan bakery to improve the crumb and texture of the finished product.
Challenges are not only limited to the baked product, but also in finding the additions, inclusions and toppings that are vegan-friendly as well. From vegan chocolate inclusions, which are bake stable, to cream and gelatine alternatives that can be used to create more sophisticated offerings, vegan-friendly finishing products are just as important for bakers catering to customers’ high expectations of the look and taste of vegan sweet treats.
Huge demand for vegan
Dawn launched a vegan bakery campaign in 2021 and with the market opening, we have seen a big demand from our manufacturing customers for vegan mixes; especially cake and doughnut varieties, with these two categories seeing more new product launches in both supermarket and artisanal bakeries.
Finished frozen products are also seeing sales uplift due to the convenience they offer for a retail bakery or foodservice operation that may currently be experiencing staff shortages. These vegan frozen products also offer the convenience of being single wrapped with full ingredients declaration, complying with Natasha’s law.
Dawn Foods’ vegan mixes, which only require the addition of water and oil or margarine, can be used in the production of desserts and cakes that are suitable for all. We believe that it is the versatility of a vegan mix that is resulting in such positive sales figures, as a mix can be used in so many different applications, appealing to non-vegans or flexitarian consumers as well. Dawn’s vegan range includes Vegan Crème Cake Mix in plain and chocolate, for pound cakes and sheet cakes, while Dawn’s Vegan Muffin Mix, also available in plain and chocolate, makes authentic American-style muffins for finishing with vegan-friendly toppings and fillings.
The future of vegan bakes
We expect to see more indulgent vegan products come to market and some innovative takes on plant-based baking too.
News headlines about global warming will see consumers think again about their meat and dairy consumption, and as a result they’ll be looking for alternatives across the board.
In five years, plant-based will be the accepted norm, and in the case of sweet bakery, there’s no good reason why a quality vegan product shouldn’t be standard for all. The challenge for bakery manufacturers is to devise products that offer consumers a treat but also appeal to their social and health concerns. ‘Healthy indulgence’ will continue to be the key buzz phrase.
- Georgia-Rose Johnson twitter. How many vegetarians and vegans are in the UK? [Internet]. Finder UK. 2022 [cited 2022Jan28]. Available from: https://www.finder.com/uk/uk-diet-trends
- Vegan baking ingredients market: Industry report, 2019-2025 [Internet]. Vegan Baking Ingredients Market | Industry Report, 2019-2025. [cited 2022Jan28]. Available from: https://www.grandviewresearch.com/industry-analysis/vegan-baking-ingredients-market
About the author
Jacqui Passmore has more than 25 years’ experience in both B2B and B2C marketing and has specialised in bakery for the last 12 years. Jacqui leads the marketing team for the UK and Ireland for Dawn Foods, a manufacturer of bakery ingredients for industrial and high street bakery channels, as well as finished frozen sweet bakery products for foodservice.