December 7, 2022
Philadelphia Cream Cheese is launching a non-dairy version of its signature spread.The plant-based cream cheese is available now at grocery stories in Atlanta, Houston, Miami and other locations in the Southeast, with a wider rollout planned for Summer 2023, reports CNN.
The new variety is made with coconut oil and faba bean protein, among other ingredients, and is designed to mimic the experience of eating traditional cream cheese.
Philadelphia’s non-dairy cream cheese has a suggested retail price of $6.49, compared to $4.57 for traditional.
The brand’s owner, Kraft Heinz, has been focusing on driving growth by innovating within its powerhouse brands like Philadelphia, including by launching plant-based alternatives where the company sees room for growth.
“Plant-based has been outpacing the overall categories within all of dairy for quite some time,” said John Crawford, VP of Client Insights for Dairy at IRI.
But with consumers trading down to more affordable options in the face of high food inflation and concerns of a looming recession, pricey cream cheese made without dairy could be a hard sell.
Robert Scott, president of R&D at Kraft Heinz, said it took the company about two years to come up with the recipe for the plant-based Philly. The team focused on two major factors: Getting the product to melt and spread easily on toasted bread or a warm waffle, and making sure that it tastes like a dairy product—even if it doesn’t totally pass for regular cream cheese.
“Getting dairy notes in a plant base is hard,” Scott said, but he hopes consumers will notice buttery hints in the spread. “To get to butter … that’s a huge success metric,” he said, acknowledging that the dairy-free cream cheese “is not a taste match of the existing product.”
Scott said that many customers aren’t getting what they want out of the current lineup of plant-based cream cheeses, and that Philadelphia is offering a better alternative. According to data from IRI, only about 41% of households who buy plant-based cream cheese make a second purchase within the year.
But Kraft is not the only company working to make a tastier cheese alternative.
“There’s a lot of work that’s being done to try and improve the performance of plant based cheese,” said Crawford, pointing to Babybel as another dairy brand that has launched plant-based options.
Like its cohorts in the alternative meat space, Kraft is trying to reach a flexitarian consumer: someone who doesn’t avoid animal protein entirely, but occasionally wants a plant-based alternative. “There’s a big opportunity” there for Kraft, said Scott.
Research contact: @CNN