It likely seems odd to many of us to eat a bowlful of macaroni and cheese that doesn’t feature at least one form of real dairy cheese, but a major food company will soon be putting such a product on grocery shelves.

For generations, Kraft Mac & Cheese has been a familiar and popular meal choice for children and adults alike. This classic version features a few dairy products: a cheese sauce that included whey, milkfat, and milk protein concentrate, plus butter and milk added per the instructions on the box.

But yesterday, Kraft announced the development of a plant-based version of its Mac & Cheese, called “Kraft Not Mac & Cheese.” Kraft’s partner on this venture is a plant-based food company called NotCo, and the vegan “cheese” sauce is made with fava bean protein and coconut oil powder. Two flavors will be available, original and white Cheddar, and it will sell for $3.49 per box, according to an article by CNN.

For those of us in the dairy industry, it is concerning to see a grocery store staple like Kraft Mac & Cheese with “not cheese, plant based” stamped on the box. The company is joining a growing number of companies developing plant-based offerings that follow customer trends, but Kraft recognized that dairy-free alternatives will not appeal to all consumers.

A press release from the company shared that less than 30% of consumers become repeat buyers of similar plant-based macaroni and cheese products because they don’t like the taste and texture. Kraft is relying on its brand name and a vegan cheese sauce they say is similar to their dairy-based product to help them be successful in this market space.

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(c) Hoard's Dairyman Intel 2023
November 30, 2023
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