Kraft-owned cream cheese company Philadelphia is considering a vegan soft cheese spread.
According to the Instagram account Vegan Food UK, Philadelphia has been conducting online surveys to gauge consumer interest in plant-based alternatives to cream cheese. This follows the confirmation of a vegan Cadbury chocolate bar, which was also first rumored following online surveys last year.
Vegan Philadelphia cream cheese would be the latest of several plant-based additions by the Kraft Heinz company. In 2019, Kraft Heinz invested $3.5 million in New Culture, a New Zealand-based biotech startup producing realistic dairy-free cheese.
Evolv Ventures—Kraft Heinz’s $100 million venture capital fund—led the seed funding round. Kraft Heinz also facilitates Springboard, a program designed to support startups with mentoring, networking, and starting capital. In 2019, all five startups picked by Springboard were vegan.
“We had an incredibly competitive group of applicants,” Kelly Reinke, Springboard incubator lead, told Baking Business. “All five companies in our second Incubator class offer delicious products that cater to the better-for-you offerings consumers are demanding. Springboard exists to help shape the future of food, and we are confident our next class does just that.”
Springboard 2019’s companies include bean-based snack company BRAMI; protein bar brand Blake’s Seed Based; yogurt producer Tiny Giants; almond juice startup Origin Almond; and healthy chip company Ka-Pop!
“We are committed to support and partner with teams that will impact the future of our industry,” said Springboard Brands general manager Sergio Eleuterio.
Consumers Choose Vegan Dairy
Kraft Heinz is one of several major companies funding plant-based ventures “to help shape” the future. Margarine brand Flora went vegan in March 2019. New York-based brand Elmhurst ended its dairy operations after over a century and pivoted to plant-based milk instead.
Many consumers are moving away from dairy for health and environmental reasons. As of 2020, almost 50 percent of Americans plan to drink plant-based milk regularly. In the UK, around a quarter of Brits now regularly drink dairy-free plant milk.
A growing body of research links dairy consumption with health various health issues, including the increased risk of certain forms of cancer. The dairy industry has also received criticism for its treatment of animals and continues to be a significant contributor to greenhouse gas emissions.
Elmhurst’s now-vegan CEO Henry Schwartz told NPR “It was time to reevaluate the past.” He added: “And start creating the food traditions that would carry us into the future.”