Vegan sweets, still a timid business

Written October 3, 2022, 7:01 am

Dyes, animal gelatin, artificial flavors, additives, sugar galore… The list of ingredients in our good old bonbecs is sometimes scary. Faced with the wave of better eating, the candy department still has a little work to do to offer treats that are better for your health and for the planet. A few large groups timidly begin to offer new references, “Mini cub'” or even organic “Crocodile’Fizz” appear.

Others try to “clean up” their recipes. We’re only just getting started. The proof, as shown by these figures from LSA: The giant confectionery market weighs almost four billion euros in France. Inside, the organic sweets and lollipops represent just under six million.

Parallel to this market in slow transition, trends are changing. France has 2% vegetarians, but also 24% “flexitarians”, who limit their meat consumption as much as possible, according to a 2021 Ifop survey. Young people are more involved in their diet than their elders: among 18-24 year olds the proportion of vegetarians, vegans and vegans rises to 12%…

A healthier alternative

On the one hand, these food trends. On the other hand, the desire to eat better, healthier, is shared by a large part of the population. To join all this, without forever having to give up the idea of ​​happily munching a few candies for a snack, new companies are trying to establish themselves in this delicious market. With an offer this time 100% vegan and carefully selected ingredients…

Among these young shoots, Céline Dirani, a business school student. Alongside her studies, in 2022 she founded Rebelle Snacks, vegan, sugar-free and protein-enriched candies. “The perfect candy”claims the young brand, which completed crowdfunding at Ulule this summer, with more than 3,400 pre-sales. “This market needs to be shaken up, we see the same offers all the time… My goal is to offer a healthy alternative so we no longer have to demonize candy!” », she points out. Mission difficult, but not impossible!

keep it fun

However, you have to deal with many problems when you want to create a vegan candy. Start by finding the right ingredients and developing the recipe! Harriet Wadjinny-Green, CEO of the Bonsaï brand, can attest to this: “The most difficult thing is to achieve a pleasant texture with vegetable pectin. Animal gelatin is used by manufacturers because it is cheap and easily gives a good texture to the candy. It took us a year of work to find the right balance! »

For this other young brand, the most important thing is to offer a product “no shit”while remaining as greedy as possible. “Our goal is to offer something good, but also reassuring, with a composition that consumers can understand, without strange ingredients (gelatin, additives, chemical dyes, etc.)! But beware, it is not a healthy product, it is still a candy, with sugar and flavor., laughs Harriet Wadjinny-Green. There is no question of sacrificing the pleasure with its small fruit-shaped confections.

The right price

When you want to veganize a candy, is it that difficult? “It depends, some recipes are more delicate than others. For marshmallows, for example, it’s not easy, we’re still working on it.”, confides Audrey Dangauthier, manager of Happy Hours at Biovallée. Basically, his company, established five years ago, specialized in dried fruits and oilseeds. Recently, she has also launched organic and vegan sweets. On the other hand, his company offers most of our favorite candies: “Teddies, French fries, licorice, bottles of coke… It deliberately remains childish! Our customers are children, but also their parents ». And it works, his company now supplies more than 700 stores and grocery stores specializing in organic and bulk.

Another problem: finding the right price. “Pectin is more expensive than, for example, gelatin. Unfortunately, our packages are more expensive than average these days, so we’re catering to people who know that to eat better, you have to be willing to spend a little more.”agrees Céline, from Rebelle Snacks, who aim “good price”without “giant margin”. On its crowdfunding, a package returned between 3.75 and 5 euros, depending on the quantity purchased. On Bonsai, same question. For direct online purchases, the package costs around three euros. At Monoprix, its plastic-free chewing gum costs 2.29 euros.

Despite these hardships, our entrepreneurs firmly believe in it. Bonsai sold 250,000 packs of chewing gum a year. And Harriet Wadjinny-Green does not see this wave stopping, on the contrary: “I am sure that the big brands will eventually follow this trend and position themselves in the niche. Eventually, vegan candy will eventually become the norm! »

To note

The candy market is doing well. Sales are increasing (+5.1% in volume at the end of August over a year according to Nielsen), while sales of chocolate are falling (-10.6% at the end of August 2022 compared to August 2021).

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