Animal-free dairy: Plant-based Philadelphia and Bel's vegan spreads with 'real dairy proteins'
It’s been more than two years in the making, but a plant-based Philadelphia cream cheese spread has finally debuted in select US retailers. The product is free of lactose and gluten and has no added flavors and dyes, while a coconut oil base provides a ‘creamy, spreadable texture’ according to Kraft Heinz. “We have carefully crafted a recipe that we believe delivers the multi-sensorial Philadelphia experience that people crave but aren’t currently getting from other plant-based products on the market,” said Keenan White, Senior Brand Manager at Philadelphia.
Other ingredients include water, modified potato starch, faba bean protein, salt, xantham gum, carob bean gum, guar gum, lactic acid, sorbic acid (as preservative), citric acid and natural flavoring.
“We focused on two major factors: delivering creamy, spreadable texture and making sure it tastes like a dairy product,” explained White. “The one-two punch of texture and flavor has historically been difficult to achieve in the plant-based cream cheese category so we are excited to enter the category and provide another solution to those looking for delicious plant-based options.”
The coconut-oil-based spread is thought to come as close to the dairy original as possible, White added, though consumers should expect flavor differences. “Our product delivers what we believe to be as close to the same creamy, spreadable texture as our dairy recipe, but with a high-quality, dairy-free ingredients list. That being said, it is not an exact taste match as it has its own unique flavor and has completely different ingredients,” he told us.”
And just like the dairy product, the plant-based alternative should be refrigerated once open and is expected to last ‘a similar amount of time as other plant-based cream cheeses’, we were told.
The original cream cheese flavor Philadelphia is available now at select retailers in the southeast US, with additional flavors planned for national rollout in summer 2023.
Also in the US, Bel Brands USA unveiled an animal-free cream cheese under its Nurishh brand. The products have been developed in partnership with precision fermentation specialist Perfect Day and contain ‘real dairy proteins without using any cows’. The Nurishh Incredible Dairy spreads will be available in Original, Strawberry and Chive and Onion flavors, and released starting January 1 at Kroger stores.
Also debuting will be a plant-based version of The Laughing Cow spreadable cheese triangles. The almond-based dairy alternative comes in Original and Garlic & Herb flavors and will be offered by select retailers ‘soon’.
The race for flavorsome dairy substitutes hots up
According to Precedence Research, the dairy alternatives market is predicted to grow by 11.8% from 2022 to 2030, with plant-based products driving the food segment. Providing nutritious and flavorful substitutes is among the major obstacles facing manufacturers who want to gain a foothold in this market, and this is no less true of big-name brands.
Both Kraft Heinz and the Bel Group have sought to strengthen their respective offerings, the former entering a JV with TheNotCompany to accelerate the development of plant-based products, and the latter entering a partnership with French precision fermentation specialist Standing Ovation over animal-free casein.
As a result, Kraft Heinz put out its first product from the JV this fall – the Kraft NotCheese, which mimics the CPG’s dairy cheese singles down to their melting properties, but is a plant-based product that contains coconut oil, modified starch, water and chickpea protein.
Meanwhile, Bel recently made waves with its partnership with Paris-based Standing Ovation, the precision fermentation company that develops animal-free caseins, which the multi-national wants to leverage in cheese manufacture. Before that plan comes to fruition, the multi-national will be able to test consumer appetite through the Nurishh Incredible Dairy Animal Free Cream Cheese Spread Alternatives, the company’s first range to leverage animal-free dairy ingredients.
Bel Brands USA’s full line of dairy alternatives includes Babybel Plant-Based, Boursin Dairy-Free as well as Nurishh’s line up of plant-based products.