Kraft Is Making A Big Change To Mac & Cheese To Make It Vegan

In a significant move, Kraft Mac & Cheese, a household staple for decades, is embracing the vegan trend by introducing a plant-based version of its beloved boxed macaroni and cheese. This innovative offering, named “Kraft NotMac&Cheese,” presents a dairy-free alternative to the traditional cheese, marking a historic moment for the iconic brand. Set to hit grocery store shelves soon, this new plant-based mac and cheese will be available in two delectable flavors: original and white cheddar with shells, both priced at a reasonable $3.49 per box.

To bring this plant-based mac and cheese to fruition, Kraft joined forces with NotCo, a renowned company specializing in plant-based food products. This bold move is a response to the ever-increasing demand from American consumers for healthier and more sustainable food choices. The plant-based food industry has witnessed remarkable growth, with sales surging by a staggering 19% in the previous year, amounting to an impressive $11 billion, as reported by research firm NIQ.

However, while there is immense potential in the plant-based food market, there are also considerable risks associated with venturing into this domain. One of the most significant challenges faced by companies like Kraft is ensuring that their dairy-free alternatives not only meet the demand but also satisfy consumers’ discerning palates. Often, individuals who have tried dairy-free options are dissatisfied with the taste, which can deter them from giving such products a second chance.

Sherry Frey, Vice President of Total Wellness at NIQ, emphasized the role of curiosity in driving individuals to try plant-based foods and beverages. Frey pointed out that taste is the primary reason why some people do not continue with plant-based alternatives, especially in the case of dairy milk substitutes.

NIQ anticipates continued interest in dairy-free alternatives, highlighting the importance of delivering exceptional taste and texture to retain consumer loyalty. In a press release, Kraft acknowledged that fewer than 30% of consumers become repeat purchasers of plant-based mac and cheese products, primarily due to taste and texture concerns. Nevertheless, the company believes that its iconic Kraft Mac & Cheese brand, known for its creamy texture, will rise to the challenge of addressing consumers’ plant-based preferences and evolving needs.

The vegan cheese sauce in “Kraft NotMac&Cheese” is crafted from fava bean protein and coconut oil powder, resulting in a sauce that closely replicates the taste, appearance, and texture of traditional dairy-based mac and cheese, according to the company.

Kraft Mac & Cheese, an 85-year-old brand, is now facing more competition than ever from younger companies positioning themselves as healthier alternatives. For instance, Goodles, a startup backed by Gal Gadot, offers boxed pasta with higher protein and fiber content, including a plant-based mac and cheese in its product lineup. Competitors like Banza, Daiya, and Annie’s also offer similar plant-based options.

The Kraft Heinz Company (KHC) finds itself at a crossroads in response to shifting consumer preferences away from processed foods. The company is actively reassessing and reconfiguring its food portfolio to achieve a $2 billion increase in net sales by 2027.

In recent years, the Kraft brand has made various adjustments to its products to better align with consumer expectations. Notably, it revamped its Kraft Singles cheeses, emphasizing that they are free from artificial flavors, colors, and preservatives. The updated packaging prominently features the statement “made with real dairy.” Additionally, Kraft renamed its boxed macaroni and cheese to “Kraft Mac & Cheese” to better reflect how consumers naturally discuss the brand. The packaging received a refreshed logo and a single-hue blue box color, accentuating the brand’s most recognizable element—the noodle smile.

In embracing plant-based innovation with “Kraft NotMac&Cheese,” Kraft Mac & Cheese aims to cater to a diverse audience, including those seeking dairy-free options and plant-based alternatives without compromising on taste and quality.