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.
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.
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