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Founded in 2019 by Zsolt Stefkovics, Fellow Creatures is a U.K. plant-based chocolate company working to make chocolate made from milk alternatives mainstream. The company is also looking to broaden offerings when it comes to diversity. Apart from its products, the designs on the brand’s packaging are created to encourage body-positive talk among consumers.
Stefkovics, who grew up in a non-vegan environment- his grandfather looked after a dairy farm and his uncle was a livestock trader- has a passion for conservation and planet preservation, not to mention a deep-seated belief that the exploitation of animals is an unfair practice.
In an interview with ProVeg, where he is currently taking part in the organisation’s latest incubator cohort, Stefkovics says he did a great deal of tasting and testing before decided to launch Fellow Creatures. “”Fellow Creatures was born out of my (unsuccessful) search for creamy, indulgent plant-based chocolate, since becoming vegan. Having tried literally every plant-based chocolate in the UK and beyond, I found they were all missing the creaminess, sweetness, and fun factor that we all remember from childhood. I found dark chocolates, which are naturally dairy-free, too bitter; and found the holier-than-thou raw chocolates too gritty to my taste. So, I set out to make my own.”
Available in five flavours: creamy hazelnut, raspberry white, salted caramel, matcha white, and classic, the premium-quality vegan milk chocolates were created to introduce non-vegan consumers to the plant-based market.
In another interview with Food Navigator, Stefkovics mentioned that while many other vegan chocolate brands use rice milk as an alternative to dairy, he wasn’t sold from on its taste or texturm saying that the end results feels “sickly sweet”.
Stefkovics added that their chocolate range contains 30% less sugar than the other dairy chocolate bars.
After investing in some equipment and experimenting with dairy alternatives, Stefkovics started making homemade chocolate. Over the course of twelve months of continuous trialing, he observed that almond paste and creamed coconut were the most successful alternatives to dairy, on top of offering a pleasant nutty undertone to the chocolates.
Supported by entrepreneur and founder of SuperJam and DTC beer subscription club Beer52, Fraser Doherty joined Stefkovics as a co-founder when the product launched in the market.
We have ethics at the core of our brand. We fight the exploitation of cocoa farmers by paying more than the fair-trade price for their produce, and save mother cows from exploitation for their milk. Our brand messaging promotes kindness to others and to ourselves. It may be just chocolate but it’s part of something biggerFraser Dohetry, Co-founder of Fellow Creatures
Stefkovics first created Milkless to launch a product with the same taste and texture of milk chocolate, without the use of any dairy components. After Milkless, he went on to develop Raspberry White and Matcha White along with a Salted Caramel variant.
Apart from the chocolates, the brand also stands out for its funky designs that are on the wrappers of the chocolates. The characters are half-human and half-animal to not only celebrate the fact that animals are fellow creatures of humans but also that we should love our bodies in whatever shape and size they are.
Speaking about what makes their company unique, Doherty said “We have ethics at the core of our brand. We fight the exploitation of cocoa farmers by paying more than the fair-trade price for their produce, and save mother cows from exploitation for their milk. Our brand messaging promotes kindness to others and to ourselves. It may be just chocolate but it’s part of something bigger.”
Consumers can purchase their products through the website or at all Planet Organic stores in London, as well as many other independent stores.
As Doherty shares, the journey has not been without its difficulties. “It’s tough starting out as a new brand. Perhaps the biggest challenge, as with all new plant-based brands, had to do with perception. A lot of consumers assume that, because something is plant-based, it’s not going to taste good. We do sampling at non-vegan events and, the people who taste our products are genuinely amazed. They can’t quite believe something ‘vegan’ could be so tasty and indulgent. We plan to do a lot of in-store sampling in order to educate consumers about how great vegan chocolate can taste and, perhaps, make plant-based eating a little more accessible.”
In the coming months, the company plans to be available in premium supermarket chains in the UK and Europe as well as introduce some seasonal, festive flavours, and work on new creations.
Vegan chocolates are having a moment around the world with many brands investing in these products including giants like James Cadbury, the great-great-great grandson of Cadbury founder John Cadbury and the owner of artisan chocolate brand Love Cocoa who announced plans to launch a new chocolate line that is entirely vegan called Happiness in Plants (HiP).
Last year Swiss chocolatier Lindt & Sprüngli announced it will debut a range of vegan chocolate bars made with oat milk and will be made available in 100% recyclable packaging.
Lead image courtesy of Fellow Creatures