by Mahesh Hegde
Veganism has evolved from being a mere fad into a lifestyle adopted by millions of people around the world. The paradigm shift in consumer behavior has meant that market players, cutting across sectors and industries, have had to adapt quickly. The impact of the massive push toward veganism is also palpable in the baking ingredients landscape. Many traditionally used baking ingredients are being replaced by plant-based ingredients, on back of shifting demand.
Baked goods have long been associated with taste, flavoring, texture, and mouthfeel with little or no regards for the health benefits that the products have to offer. However, the inception of trends such as “mindful choices”, “clean label”, and “sustainability” have altered the consumer perception drastically in recent years.
Although the adoption of baking ingredients that can be classified as ‘vegan’ or ‘plant-based’ is still at a nascent stage, the momentum is noticeable. It is highly likely that more players in the baking industry will replace traditional ingredients with vegan ingredients in their product offerings. The five key trends driving adoption of vegan baking ingredients include:
- Social, Ethical, and Health Concerns Surrounding Egg Consumption and Production
Eggs are widely used in the baking industry as a binding, leavening, and a foaming agent. However, recent concerns surrounding unethical poultry farming practices, and outbreak of avian influenza has led a sizable section of consumers to rethink. Salmonella bacteria found in chicken is transmitted to eggs at an early stage and can cause food-borne illness in humans.
Inhumane poultry farming practices are increasingly receiving backlash from animal welfare societies and conscientious consumers alike. The clamor has been catalyzed through effective information dissemination through digital mediums, especially social media channels. The detection of the insecticide Fipronil in eggs in 2017 further lent momentum to the argument of shunning egg consumption for ethical and health considerations. Concerns about the egg production practices and poultry farming, and identification of egg as a common allergen have created opportunity for introduction of plant-based variants.
- Fluctuating Egg Prices Induce Demand for Stable Variants
The poultry industry has not been able to completely recover from widespread avian influenza outbreaks of the recent past. Additionally, the constant recurrence of the epidemic has led to a price surge, prompting manufacturers to seek alternatives that could effectively replace the binding and leavening agent in bakery products. Plant-based emulsifiers, leavening agents, and egg-replacers are being looked upon as a cost-effective and viable solution.
- Complementing Nature of Vegan Baking Ingredients Effectively Make Up for the Functional and Sensory Properties of Eggs
Eggs are central to the production of baked goods due to their functional properties such as thickening, gelation, coagulation, binding, foam stabilization, and humectancy. These functional properties impart a texture, mouthfeel, and aroma to bakery products, vital to creating the pleasant sensory properties baked goods are known for.
The availability of a variety of vegan baking ingredients is allowing food processing companies to combine their functional and sensory properties for the production of vegan baked goods that mimic the taste and feel of traditional products. Use of spices such as turmeric and paprika for coloring, egg-less flavorings, soy and canola lecithins as emulsifiers, legume proteins as stabilizers, plant-based gums as thickening and gelation agents, and fruit purees for binding and humectancy are some of the vegan baking ingredients that are effectively replacing eggs and other traditional baking ingredients.
- Aquafaba: The Most Sought After Stand-alone Plant-based Egg-Replacer
A protein derived from chickpea, aquafaba is increasingly being used as a stand-alone egg replacer in bakery products. The viscous protein can be used as a binder, emulsifier, thickener, and a foaming agent in baking products. Presence of polysaccharides and an assortment of other chemical compounds predominantly found in egg whites make the vegan ingredient an ideal fit for replacing eggs. Additionally, the cost-effective nature of production of the chickpea-based protein makes it a lucrative ingredient for use in the production of vegan bakery goods.
Fortification of the protein with added nutrients is another ongoing development that is expected to keep its demand robust in the market. InnovoPro, an Israel-based company, succeeded in extracting 70% of the protein from chickpeas, a development which can potentially pave the way for commercializing the production of aquafaba.
- Physical and Online Retail Platforms Providing an Extensive Consumer Network for Sales
An increasing number of consumers are associating veganism with health benefits. In addition, a growing interest in eco-friendly and ethical products is creating a surge in the demand for vegan bakery products. With consumer buying patterns suggesting increased readiness to spend more on vegan products, retail giants are investing heavily in vegan baking ingredients. Further, retail and online bakery stores are employing aggressive marketing techniques to promote their products and piquing the interest of the non-vegan consumer base as well.
Accelerating adoption of flexitarian diets and intensifying altruism campaigns promoting the end of factory farming is causing food chains to increase the number of vegan options in their menu. The pervasive trend has also led to the launch of all-vegan bakeries around the world. Food chains across the world are focusing on including more vegan options in their menu to cater to the bolstering consumer demand. Vegan junk food going mainstream is generating a growing demand for vegan bread. Greggs, a prominent bakery chain in the UK, reported generating revenues of £1 billion through sales of its vegan sausage rolls. The widespread inclusion of vegan baking goods in restaurant and food chain menus is expected to play a pivotal role in aiding vegan baking ingredients market to gain penetration.
The vegan baking ingredients market growth is expected to continue in an upward trajectory with demand for sustainability, animal welfare gaining momentum. Increased inclination towards a plant-based or vegan diet is another key cause estimated to fuel widespread adoption of vegan baking ingredients.
Author Bio: Mahesh Hegde is a market research communications executive at Fact.MR. The insights presented here are based on a report on Vegan Baking Ingredients market by Fact.MR.