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In an announcement made on Wednesday, Pizza Hut UK revealed that it is considering replacing all its dairy cheese with a vegan alternative in order to reduce their carbon emissions. The plan, which was unveiled at a London event, is a part of the pizza chain’s ambitious plans to achieve carbon neutral operations by 2030. While the pizza giant spoke about introducing the plan in the United Kingdom, it is still unclear whether the chain will be extending the pledge across its 18,000 locations globally.
According to Plant-Based News, Pizza Hut UK revealed that the chain may be looking to eventually phase out dairy cheeses on its pizzas with a vegan plant-based alternative whilst speaking at the event in London. According to the senior menu innovation manager Ciara Grace, the move is the chain’s “stepping stone” towards its plans to go carbon neutral by 2030, and will help reduce the carbon impact its pizzas.
While Pizza Hut has no immediate or near-term plans envisioning taking dairy products off the menu, they are now beginning to trial a number of new vegan products, which includes dairy free mayonnaise for the Salad Bar and new vegan cheese blends. A spokesman for the brand told Green Queen that they are now on an “innovation journey where we focus on listening to our guests and challenging ourselves to create new products that make a positive impact,” and that increasing their plant-based offerings will be a core part of their menu development.
It follows the brand’s CEO Jens Hofma’s statement earlier this year, which presented Pizza Hut’s “responsible business” plans, which would include a vegan menu among other initiatives such as a food donation program, food waste reduction targets and a dedicated company vegan group. In the statement, Hofma alluded to introducing more vegan alternatives, mentioning that “having easy access to alternative products will be key to help us stay on track.”
At the recent London event, the restaurant group also announced the launch of a new dairy-free stuffed crust using a cheese substitute from Violife. The Vegan Stuffed Crust can be ordered as an add-on to any existing pizza, and will launch across the United Kingdom in every location across England, Scotland and Wales, and for delivery though selected Pizza Huts, Deliveroo and Uber Eats.
Among some of its existing vegan options include a vegan cheesecake option and a vegan pepperoni pizza called the Pepperphoni. It is unclear when the new vegan stuffed crust pizza or future vegan pizzas will be made available outside the United Kingdom across its 18,000 branches globally.
The move from the world’s largest pizza chain comes as other major F&B players have unveiled similar plans to introduce more vegan options, driven by consumer demand for plant-based, ethical and more eco-friendly products. Just last week, confectionary conglomerate Mondelez revealed that it is now planning to develop a vegan version its most iconic product, the Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate bar.
Another FMCG giant, Swiss multinational Nestlé, also recently announced that they will be aggressively pursuing vegan and vegetarian innovation across every product category, from developing new plant-based meat alternatives to meatless ready-meals.
Given the massive uptick in the number of vegans across the world, it is unsurprising that we are now seeing a wave of F&B brands launch more plant-based products to cater to demand. According to the most recent research by independent comparison platform Finder, the number of vegans in the United Kingdom alone is set to skyrocket by a whopping 327% this year, increasing the total vegan population int he country to around 2.9 million.
The rise of veganism isn’t just happening in the Western world – the movement is gaining major traction right here in Asia too. Just in Southeast Asia alone, new vegetarian and vegan product launches have increased by 440% since 2016, according to FAIRR.
Update February 2020: This article has been updated to reflect additional comments from Pizza Hut’s spokesman, and clarifying the plans for Pizza Hut Restaurants UK.
Lead image courtesy of PETA.