Starburst has released its first gelatin-free gummy candy. The new Plant Based Original Gummies come in a mixed package with four iconic flavors: Strawberry, Cherry, Orange, and Lemon, which Starburst disclosed in a recent Instagram story. The new product is a vegan version of the company’s existing Starburst Gummies range, which contains gelatin and is not vegan.
Starburst has been innovating its gummy candies in other ways as well, in addition to the new plant-based range. Starburst introduced its Airs Gummies collection this summer, which reimagines gummy candy by aerating it for a fluffier feel. The non-vegan Starburst Airs Gummy line debuted in select grocers this fall in Original and Sour Tropical flavors, and will be available nationwide in 2022.
Are Starbursts Vegan-Friendly?
Because animal-derived components such as confectioner’s glaze (produced from lac beetle secretions) and gelatin are used in most Starburst candies, including the classic fruit chews, they are not vegan (an ingredient sourced from collagen found in animal bones). However, in some countries, like the United Kingdom, Starburst fruit chews are prepared without gelatin.
Vegan Starburst knockoffs are already on the market, despite Mars Wrigley’s recent entry into the plant-based candy business in the United States. Smart Sweets, a woman-owned confectionery company, introduced Starburst-style candy chews in mango, strawberry, and watermelon flavors last year. Smart Sweets’ version, unlike Starburst’s, is created from pectin, a fruit-derived substance that has similar qualities to gelatin but without the animal suffering. To cut down on added sugar, Smart Sweets plant-based chews are sweetened with monk fruit. While some of Smart Sweets’ sweets use gelatin, the company also sells plant-based treats like Sweet Fish, Sour Blast Buddies, and Peach Rings.
Candy Goes Vegan
In recent years, some of the largest names in confectionery, including Cadbury, Lindt, and Nestlé, have entered the lucrative vegan candy business. In time for Veganuary 2020, Mars debuted their first vegan milk chocolate Galaxy range in the United Kingdom. The company spent six months perfecting its vegan milk chocolate, which is produced with hazelnut paste and rice syrup rather than dairy milk. Nestlé entered the vegan candy market this summer with the release of KitKat V in the United Kingdom, Europe, Australia, and portions of South America. The KitKat V, which was conceived in KitKat’s birthplace of York, England, has yet to be seen in the United States because the brand is licensed and manufactured by The Hershey Company here.
However, with the limited debut of its Oat Made brand in the United States, Hershey is currently testing its own vegan chocolate bars. Classic Dark and Extra Creamy Almond & Sea Salt, two vegan flavors from the new line, are available in a real-time marketing test at shops like Target until June 2022.
Outside of the chocolate category, Starburst’s new plant-based range will compete with Jelly Belly’s comparable gummy line, which debuted last year. While Jelly Belly’s main line of jelly beans is not vegan due to the use of beeswax and confectioner’s glaze, the company’s new vegan gummy line is free of gelatin and comes in packs of five diverse flavors: Apple, Berry, Lemon, Orange, and Very Cherry.
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