Chocolate manufacturer Barry Callebaut has launched a 100% dairy-free chocolate as part of its plant-based range.

Its new M_lk Chocolate product, which took the company two years to develop, is made with all-natural ingredients and will extend its Plant Craft Indulgence range.

The creamy and milky chocolate was created to satisfy growing consumer demand for plant-based treats, particularly among millennials and centennials (those born in the mid to late 1990s), said the company.

 “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 the plant-based revolution,” said Pablo Pervesi, chief innovation, sustainability and quality officer and head of gourmet at Barry Callebaut.

The company has dedicated a fully segregated dairy-free production facility in Europe,  a chocolate factory in Norderstedt, Germany.

The new factory, set to open in the first half of 2021, will be the manufacturer’s first to supply dairy-free chocolate to the European market, with an annual production capacity expected to reach tens of thousands of tonnes.

“With more than 175 years of experience in mastering chocolate, creating indulgent experiences is at the heart of what we do. Through this innovation, we’re proud to offer chocolate creations with all the creaminess consumers love, 100% dairy-free,” added Pervesi.

Made with vegan and dairy-free ingredients, other Plant Craft products include chocolate, cocoa powders, decorations and nut-based paste and fillings.

Millennials and centennials are sustainably conscious and increasingly adopt a ‘flexitarian’ or ‘freegan’ lifestyle, or take part in ‘Veganuary’ to reduce their carbon footprint, according to Barry Callebaut.

In the UK, while only 1% of consumers classify as vegan, 14% of the population have adopted a plant-based diet one or more days a week, according to analytics firm YouGov.