Flora Original and Flora Dairy Free, as well as its 10g portion packs, are to made from ingredients from natural origins.
Brand owner Upfield said the move tapped into the trend for plant-based diets, which it claimed have increased by 300% in the past year. It added that the overhaul appealed to the 3.5 million consumers in UK who now identified as vegan.
The new Dairy Free variant was designed to remove layers of complexity and concerns over allergens from the kitchen – as caterers would no longer have to make separate dairy-free meals, Upfield said.
With plant-based dishes growing in popularity, the new Flora range allowed operators to cater to evolving consumer demands, said Steven Hermiston, Upfield general manager for UK and Ireland.
“Consumer diets are changing, there is a great awareness around what people are eating and where that food comes from,” he said.
“Allergens are also a challenge that the entire industry faces. At home, it is easy for consumers to manage special dietary requirements, but when eating out it can be tricky for both the consumer and the operator.
‘Remove allergens from their business’
“Foodservice professionals need products that can help them remove allergens from their business – but this cannot mean compromising on taste. By using Flora Dairy Free, operators can serve great tasting dairy-free food to all consumers with total confidence.”
The new Flora range has been trialled by Alexis Gauthier, chef patron of Michelin-starred London restaurant Gauthier Soho.
Gauthier, who is known for developing and experimenting with plant-based menus, was “genuinely surprised” by the new Flora.
“The taste was something I would expect from a traditional butter, while its versatility as a kitchen staple is potentially game-changing for vegan cooking,” Gauthier said.
“And it’s not just me – my kitchen is full of obsessive, classically-trained French chefs who are just as delighted with this new product as I am.”
Upfield was formed in July 2018, following the £6m acquisition of the Unilever spreads business by private equity firm KKR in December 2017.
Claiming to be the largest plant-based company in the world, Upfield’s brands include Bertolli, Stork and I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. It operates 57 manufacturing sites globally.
Vitalite dairy-free spread
Meanwhile, Dairy Crest has unveiled a new line extension for its Vitalite dairy-free spread brand.
The Vitalite Baking Block is designed for “optimal performance” with a diverse range of cooking and baking occasions, Dairy Crest said.
The spread enabled better aeration of cake batters for a lighter texture, and firmer, more workable biscuit doughs to reduce shrinkage on baking, it added.
Dairy-free baking occasions have more than doubled since 2015 and now contribute almost one third of all dairy-free spreads volume [Kantar Worldpanel].
Neil Stewart, marketing manager for spreads at Dairy Crest, said the launch would appeal both to consumers with a dairy intolerance who are not currently buying into the home baking sector and to the increasing number of consumers adopting free-from products as a lifestyle choice.
“Counter to the wider butters and spreads market, which has seen some softening of baking occasions over recent years, dairy-free baking has continued to grow apace,” he said.
“Our research has highlighted that while many dairy-free spreads currently in the market can be used for cooking and baking applications, they don’t always deliver the optimal ‘bake’ that consumers are looking for.”
Purchased by 11% of UK households, the market for dairy-free spreads grew by 16% volume in 2018 [IRI SIG Grocers + Kantar Discounters & Bargain Stores].
Vitalite Baking Block 250g will launch into Asda from today (18 March), before rolling out across further retailers over subsequent months.