Dairy-Free Philadelphia Cream Cheese Makes Its U.S. Debut

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After popular U.S.-based cream cheese brand Philadelphia launched its first dairy-free offering in Tesco stores across the U.K. in January, the vegan cream cheese is now available in the U.S.

According to Robert Scott, president of R&D at Kraft Heinz, it took the company about two years to come up with the recipe for the plant-based Philly.

“Getting dairy notes in a plant base is hard,” Scott said noting the product isn’t a taste match to the dairy-based option. The company also gave the cream cheese butter notes. “To get to butter … that’s a huge success metric,” he said.

Kraft, like other multinational food giants, is aiming for the flexitarian shopper. “There’s a big opportunity” for Kraft, said Scott.

Courtesy Philadelphia

The initial launch came in January following a late holiday season effort by the brand to convince its customers not to make cheesecakes in the wake of a cream cheese shortage.

“With over half a million people taking part in this year’s Veganuary, the appetite for plant-based alternatives has never been more apparent,” Louise Stigant, UK managing director of Philadelphia’s parent company, Mondelēz International, said in a statement.

“We’ve worked hard to make sure new Philadelphia Plant Based really delivers the same great taste and creaminess that people love and expect from Philadelphia and we’re delighted that there’s now a Philadelphia product for everyone – not a bagel or slice of toasted sourdough ever needs to go without again!”

Two years in development

The dairy-free offering, which was two years in the making, is made from a blend of coconut oil and faba beans. The initial product launched in the U.K. was made from almonds and oats.

While Philadelphia is a staple on U.S. shelves, the brand said it chose the U.K. for the launch because of its strong interest in a plant-based diet. According to Mondelēz, one in five U.K. shoppers are interested in or already following a plant-based diet. And they want suitable replacements for their favorite meat and dairy products.

“Given the increasing relevance for shoppers with huge growth in plant-based lifestyles, we believe our new plant-based recipe is a step forward in the market to drive awareness of cheese alternatives, which excel on taste and quality,” brand manager Abi Eayrs said.

But now it’s gearing up for success in the U.S. market. Dairy alternatives continue to see sales climb across the plant-based sector even as sales for vegan meat dropped nine percent in the last year. Sales for dairy alternatives were up 1.4 percent.

Philadelphia’s plant-based cream cheese is now available at grocery stores in Atlanta, Houston, Miami, and other locations in the Southeast, and is expected to roll out to more stores by summer.