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Swiss food manufacturing giant Nestlé has announced that it plans to launch a non-dairy version of the famous condensed milk product under its brand Carnation. Rolling out in three major retailers in the U.K. later this year, the move comes amid a tidal wave of mainstream brands introducing vegan-friendly products to cater to the fast-growing demand.
Another sign that veganism is no longer a niche and has firmly positioned itself into the mass market, the food and drink conglomerate Nestlé has revealed that it will be launching a dairy-free vegan version of its classic Carnation canned condensed milk. Starting from this September, the new product will be available to purchase at British supermarket chains Morrisons and Tesco, as well as on e-commerce platform Ocado.
The dairy-free version contains oat and rice flour and will be retailed at £2.19 per can, a slight mark up from £1.70 on average for Carnation’s standard dairy condensed milk. Up until now, the only commercial available options have been made from coconut milk.
As reported by the Grocer, the product was 18 months in the making. “It has been a challenge for vegans to find suitable alternatives to make dairy or caramel-based sweets treats or desserts, without having to compromise on taste, texture or appearance,” said Vittoria Simms, the marketing lead in the U.K. for Nestlé.
Although there is yet to be any news of the product being made available outside of the U.K., it is likely that Asian consumers are watching with a keen interest. While condensed milk is often used in desserts such as pies and confectionaries in Western dishes, it’s also a common ingredient in classic Cantonese cha chaan teng dishes and drinks, from Hong Kong-style milk tea and coffee to french toast and condensed milk buns.
It’s also a key ingredient in Thai-style milk tea, Vietnamese iced coffee and Japanese fluffy milk bread pans.
It has been a challenge for vegans to find suitable alternatives to make dairy or caramel-based sweets treats or desserts, without having to compromise on taste, texture or appearance.Vittoria Simms, marketing lead at Nestlé
The move by Nestlé is a clear indication that there is mainstream demand for vegan products. Though plant-based foods have been rising in popularity over the past few years due to greater awareness of its associated health and environmental benefits, plant-based sales have surged particularly in recent months amid the coronavirus pandemic due to concerns about food safety and the dangers of an animal-centric food system.
Since the beginning of this year, the Swiss multinational has made clear its intentions to aggressively pursue this fast-growing market, stating that it hopes to launch vegan items across all its established brands, lines and categories, and that it believes plant-based is the key to “reviving” some of its older stagnant products.
It recently made headlines for its latest US$103 million investment injection into China, which was widely advertised to be used to set up a plant-based food factory in the country. However, upon further investigation by Green Queen, a large share of the investment will be split to help boost the company’s existing unsustainable dairy snack production and ramp up its pet food line, casting doubt on the authenticity of the firm’s plant-based commitments.
What’s clear, however, is that the mainstream food industry has no choice but to adapt to the growing appetite for healthier and more sustainable meat-free options.
Lead image courtesy of Nestlé.