America’s passion for more healthy dessert options continues to migrate in many directions.

On the consumer front, VEDGEco, a nationwide wholesaler of 100% plant-based food, announces the launch of the Planted Chef Challenge: Bakery Edition, a campaign that encourages independent bakeries across the country to veganize one of their popular baked goods.

“The demand for plant-based foods, including bakery items, has never been higher,” said Trevor Hitch, chief executive officer ofVEDGEco. “By adding plant-based options to their menus, independent bakeries can increase foot traffic, satisfy consumer demand, and boost their bottom line. We’re excited to see (and taste!) what they create.”

Participating bakeries include the following:

Oui Pastries, Philadelphia (, is making a rich “Chocolate Flower Pot” with chocolate cake, balsamic dark chocolate ganache, strawberries and a chocolate shortbread.

Starburst Parlor, Las Vegas (, is making Mexican Hot Chocolate Brownies with three types of chocolate, hints of cinnamon, and topped with toasted pecans, drizzled in chocolate, and dusted with sweet and spicy chipotle powder. They are 100% plant-based, sugar-free and gluten free.

Pop Goes the Waffle, Tampa Bay, (, is creating a Vegan Liege Waffle topped with melted ForA: Butter, cinnamon sugar, sliced fresh banana, vegan caramel sauce and vegan whipped cream.

Baked AF, Cleveland (, is making a Vegan Toaster Strudel featuring ForA: Butter, JUST egg, Field Roast sausages, and Daiya cheese.

Each participating bakery received ForA: Butter, a Michelin-starred chef endorsed plant-based butter that bakes, cooks, spreads and tastes like traditional butter and can be used 1:1 in every cooking application.

VEDGEco is on a mission to enable freedom of food choice at meal-time. Available to restaurants and other food service industry businesses, VEDGEco ships its carefully curated selection of versatile, plant-based products in foam-free, recyclable, and compostable packaging for as little environmental impact as possible.

Bold new chocolate

On the supply side, bakery ingredient and Belgian chocolate supplier, Puratos USA, has announced a new step in their health and well-being journey with the launch of Belcolade Selection Dark Sugar Reduced Cacao-Trace Chocolate.

Made with all-natural chicory root fiber instead of high-intensity sweeteners like Stevia or Aspartame, the latest addition to the premium Belcolade Selection range has 40% less sugar and is 100% natural, using only clean label ingredients to create a perfectly balanced flavor with bright, fruity, and smooth roasted cocoa notes.

This bold new chocolate is also made with sustainably sourced cocoa beans from Puratos’ unique Cacao-Trace sustainability program, which uses expert fermentation techniques to produce superior chocolate and rewards its cocoa farmers with a Chocolate Bonus of $0.05 per lb of chocolate sold. This can add up to 1 to 2 months of additional salary for the farmers.

“We are relentlessly focused on crafting products with the best nutritional value possible, without compromising on taste, texture, or quality,” explained Jaina Wald, vice president of marketing for Puratos USA. “We know that chocolatiers, patissiers, and bakers want the best tasting chocolate for their customers, and consumers are more focused than ever on improving their health and well-being. Now, they can come together for an indulgent chocolate experience both feel good about.”

Belcolade Selection Sugar Reduced Chocolate can be used in a wide array of applications, from truffles and tablets to cakes and brownies. With exceptional technical expertise and a team of world-class pastry chefs and chocolatiers at your disposal, the Puratos team is ready to work with you on concepts, ideation, and fully finished recipes that bring together the best of three worlds: taste, health, and sustainability.