The demand for plant-based baked products is now a significant trend in supermarkets, according to a Sheffield bakery which has developed the first certified vegan jam doughnut for Tesco.
Fletchers, which was established in the city in 1895, has come up with a jam doughnut which is not only free of animal products but is produced in an environment swabbed and tested to make sure it is suitable for vegans.
Tesco has called it an “historic move”, saying the Jazzy Jam Doughnut is the first official vegan doughnut to go on sale.
Fletchers head baker Andy Bingham said that developing the product has not just involved eliminating the eggs and butter usually included in the ingredient list.
Mr Bingham said the difficult part has been auditing all suppliers to make sure there’s no contamination at any stage and also to make sure the production line is thoroughly cleaned, swabbed and tested ahead of each run.
He said: “These delicious doughnuts are sugar-dusted with an apple and raspberry jam filling but, unlike the traditional variety, have not been made using any animal products.”
Mr Bingham said: “It’s all about making a product that hasn’t got eggs or butter but, also, we trace it back through the supply chain to make sure that there is no cross contamination.
“We also make doughnuts with butter and eggs here already so that means we’ve got to ensure a full clean down and the line is swabbed and tested before we make the products.”
He said the 18-hour batch run for the vegan version follows a weekend-long clean down of the line.
“It’s like gluten-free, it’s like anything. It’s all about the cross contamination,” Mr Bingham said.
“If we can overcome these problems, we can make them.”
Mr Bingham said there was a growing market for vegetarian and vegan products but he thought it was the notion of “plant-based” food that was catching consumers’ imaginations.
He said: “This is, for sure, a food trend across the whole of the country.
“I honestly think the key point to these products is about being ‘plant-based’. People understand it and it’s not intimidating.”
Mr Bingham said demand has kept high throughout the pandemic.
He said: “We’ve been flat out right through lockdown.
“Obviously, food service fell off a cliff and we were all a little concerned but what happened was that retailers were selling more bread and rolls purely because people were staying at home and there was panic-buying as well.”
Mr Bingham said Veganuary will see Fletchers supply around 120,000 of the five doughnut packs to Tesco this month.
Tesco said the Jazzy Jam Doughnut is being launched under Tesco’s Wicked Kitchen brand this week across the UK.
A spokesman said the demand for chilled plant-based foods at Tesco has grown by more than 50% in the last year.
In autumn it set a sales target for plant-based foods, pledging to increase sales of meat alternatives by 300% in five years and launched Christmas brands including what is said was the UK’s first ever plant-based turkey crown.
Tesco food developer Kaysha Keane said: “Plant-based food is the biggest culinary revolution of the 21st century and there have been some fantastic products coming out – but until now there has not been a dedicated vegan jam doughnut.
“Jam doughnuts have been the single most popular sweet item in our in-store bakeries for ages so with the incredible growth of the vegan movement it was an obvious choice to create a plant-based version.”
Fletchers employs around 400 people at its Wadsley Bridge site in Sheffield, where it has been baking since 1950.