Project Description

Seasonal Plant-based Products

Vegan product development to meet consumer demands during Diwali, Hanukkah, and Christmas

According to a study published early October 2021, daily meat consumption in the UK has fallen by 17% over the last ten years[1].

Today, consumers are more conscious of the health implications and environmental factors that accompany eating meat and are actively choosing plant-based alternatives as part of their weekly supermarket shops.

As we head into the latter part of the year, and towards the festive season, shoppers are already on the lookout for plant-based products that can serve as showstopping centrepieces or sumptuous sides as part of their celebratory dinners.

In this article, we’ll look at traditional dishes served during Diwali, Hannukah, and Christmas, highlighting opportunities for plant-powered pioneers to develop, or expand upon, vegan seasonal products to please the masses.

Diwali

Celebrated by both the Hindu and Sikh religions, Diwali is the Festival of Light and takes place over five days.

The festival is a time for families to get together, decorate their homes with colourful lights and garlands, and of course devour delicious, sweet treats and puddings.

In the run up to Diwali it is traditional to hand make Mithai, Indian sweets, to be served to family members and guests over the course of the festival. Typical base ingredients include gram flour, rice flour, semolina, lentils, squash, condensed milk, or yoghurt. Other sweets, like Gulab Jamun, are made from powdered milk and ghee. You can see that these confections aren’t really that vegan-friendly, especially since they are typically fried in ghee.

Another dish that is popular at Diwali is Kheer (also known as Payasam or Phirni) a dessert like rice pudding, made from whole milk, sugar, and rice, tapioca, vermicelli, or sweet corn. Additional ingredients include cardamom, saffron, dried fruits, and nuts. Another common Diwali pudding, this time made from yoghurt cheese, is Skrikhand.

This presents a great opportunity for brands to develop plant-based alternatives of these popular treats, which will also appeal to those short on time or unable to make their own sweets at home. The same goes for the milky desserts, which could easily be replaced with dairy alternatives such as coconut cream.

Hanukkah

Celebrated over eight days, Hanukkah is the Jewish festival of lights which revolves around lighting candles in a Menorah, taking special prayers, and eating lots of delicious traditional foods.

There are many foods that are not traditionally vegan-friendly, but certainly could be. Whether that’s a seitan or pea-protein brisket, or another kind of stewing-style meat, for a tasty family Hannukah dinner, or dairy-free Matzo balls in a vegetable broth.

Another dish commonly served at Hannukah is Kugel. This baked dish that can be either savoury or sweet which is traditionally made from egg noodles, and packed full of other dairy products including butter, cream, cheese, and eggs. The development of a plant-based Kugel would not only appeal to those following a vegan diet, but those with allergies or intolerances to lactose

Sweet treats served at Hannukah include Sufganiyot, made from sweet dough similar to donut holes or beignets, and chocolate Babka cake, whilst children are often gifted Gelt (chocolate coins) at Hannukah.

Brands who develop guilt-free, plant-based versions of these desserts are also sure to prove popular with Jewish communities around the country.

Christmas

Christmas 2021 is by far the most vegan-friendly Christmas there has ever been!

Those looking for an alternative Christmas dinner are spoilt for choice, with pretty much every supermarket stocking at least one vegan festive option this year.

We’re going to focus on where there are opportunities for brands to capture the market share before product categories get over saturated.

Hampers

Not only do hampers make great gifts, but they bring a little luxury to any Christmas table.

Collating a variety of vegan treats into one bundle is a great option for households new to a plant-based Christmas, or who are hosting non-meat eaters this year.

Hampers are a great opportunity for brands to showcase a few of their products in one go, and we’re sure that the demand will continue to grow over the next few years.

Cheese boards

Not everyone has a sweet tooth, so there is high demand for something savoury to end a Christmas dinner, and what could be more in traditional that a plant-based “cheese” board?!

Although it is a lot easier to find vegan cheese alternatives in supermarkets, there are very few pre-built cheese board options available. This is where brands could stand out from the crowd.

Like hampers, consumers will be more attracted to pre-packaged options that also include chutneys, pickles, and crackers.

Fish alternatives

Despite meat-alternatives being the more popular festive option, there is still demand for fish and shellfish alternatives.

This year, there are a few more options creeping onto shelves, but there is still room for more. Key products brands could develop include:

  • Salmon-style en croute

  • Smoked salmon alternatives

  • Plant based prawns

  • Fish-style starters

  • Party food

Party food

Like Diwali and Hannukah, Christmas is a time to bring people together. And what brings people together more than food?

Tasty bite-size morsels are incredibly popular around the festive period and New Year’s Eve.

Plant-based party foods, both sweet and savoury, will continue to be sort after by shoppers. Where the opportunities lie for both manufacturers and brands, is to think outside of the box and develop party treats that go beyond the usual spring rolls, onion bhajis, samosas, and sausage rolls.

Cakes and desserts

Traditional festive desserts like mince pies, Christmas pudding, and Christmas cake have already had the plant-based treatment and can be found in most supermarkets these days.

Where brands can find new opportunities, is in two areas:

  • Showstoppers for the end of the meal
  • Bite-sized treats

Consumers are looking for sumptuous, overindulgent desserts with flavour profiles including chocolate, salted caramel, winter berries, and warming spice.

And if someone can develop a vegan meringue with a long shelf-life, classic desserts like pavlova and meringue nests will be sure to fly out of the stores next Christmas.

We hope you agree that there are some interesting opportunities for vegan brands or private label solutions to develop seasonal plant-based products for religious celebrations throughout the year.

Here at Bolst Global we support retailers, distributors, manufacturers, and brands as they grow. From product sourcing to market outreach, we’ve done it all. Want to know how we can help you reach your goals? Then get in touch today!

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