Vegan cheese may sound like an oxymoron, but plant-based products are growing exponentially, dairy replacements included. Plant-based food sales have grown trifold (that includes everything from veggie burgers to oat milk soft serve), though plant-based cheese is lagging behind.
Plant-based cheese typically lacks the taste, texture and variety that consumers are looking for in vegan products, meaning there’s plenty of room on the refrigerated section to re-create some of America’s favorite products.
Enter: The Kraft NotCheese Slice, a brand new packaged slice designed to look, feel, and taste like the animal-based counterpart, i.e. Kraft Singles. The creamy texture and dairy-like meltability may make it hard to believe these slices are made with 100% plant-based ingredients.
“Plant-based is one of the fastest growing segments in food and beverage, but there are significant barriers to entry such as taste, texture, variety, and availability that leave current consumers dissatisfied,” says Lucho Lopez-May, CEO of the Kraft Heinz Not Company. “This is the focus of the Kraft Heinz Not Company—to address those barriers by developing mouthwatering plant-based foods for all. Our vision to be the indispensable plant-based food company has motivated us to deliver foods that fit the way consumers are eating today.”
A collaboration with NotCo, a food tech company determined to find plant-based alternatives to traditionally animal-based products, KRAFT NotCheese Slices first debuted in Cleveland, as part of a market test in November 2022. Within just 8 weeks, KRAFT NotCheese Slices became the #1 branded plant-based slices in dollar sales, said a representative for the brand.
Now, KRAFT NotCheese Slices are available nationwide in three flavors: American, cheddar and provolone. Ingredients include chickpea and coconut oil, and the plant-based cheeses have no artificial flavors or dyes.
“With our expertise in cheese, we were able to create a slice that tastes delicious cold and melts in all your favorite recipes,” said Lopez-May. “Kraft NotCheese Slices is the second product hitting shelves [following NotMayo in March 2023] and the first nationally distributed since the joint venture was announced in 2022. We are achieving this launch in record time using our agile ways of working and combining NotCo’s expertise with the scale and power of the Kraft Heinz brand portfolio.”
Kraft isn’t the only major supermarket brand breaking into the plant-based market via the refrigerator case. Earlier this year, Babybel debuted a plant-based version of its iconic wax-wrapped cheese, and Boursin also introduced a dairy-free cheese spread reminiscent of its original cheese product. Philadelphia also offers non-dairy plant-based spreads, like their cream cheeses, and it will certainly be interesting to see how many more major brands break into this emerging space.