Cocoa processor and chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut is investing in dairy-free product development and production facilities to cater to the demand for plant-based products.
The company has created a 100% dairy-free chocolate, called M_lk Chocolate, which it says mimics the typical creamy milk chocolate flavour and texture. The innovation is part of its new 'Plant Craft' range that spans chocolate, cocoa, nut products, fillings and decorations. M_lk Chocolate is made with a secret ingredient of "natural origin", exclusively available to Barry Callebaut. It took the company's R&D team two years to develop the innovation.
According to the Belgian-Swiss cocoa supplier, the new chocolate satisfies the growing consumer demand for "plant-based indulgence", particularly among millennials and centennials.
"The launch comes at a time when sustainability-conscious consumers, especially millennials and centennials, are increasingly adopting a ‘flexitarian’ or ‘freegan’ lifestyle – navigating seamlessly between plant-based products one day and animal products the next, or taking part in milestones like Veganuary
– January as a month of an exclusively vegan diet – to reduce their carbon footprint," said the company in a press statement.
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Dedicated dairy-free factory
To bring these plant-based products to market, Barry Callebaut has developed a European footprint of fully-segregated dairy-free production facilities, including a state-of-the-art chocolate factory in Norderstedt, Germany. The new factory will be the manufacturer’s first facility capable of supplying dairy-free chocolate to the European market, with annual production capacity expected to reach tens of thousands of tonnes.
The factory will be opened as a dairy-free facility in the first half of 2021.
"The next generation of consumers is looking for experiences that are tasty, good for them and good for the planet. With that in mind, we aim to accompany the industry in this plant-based revolution," commented Pablo Perversi, chief innovation, sustainability and quality officer and head of gourmet at Barry Callebaut.