French cheese giant Bel Group has finally launched a vegan version of its famed Babybel cheese.
Instead of the classic red wax featured in the dairy version, the mini vegan cheese wheels are wrapped in peelable green wax. The cheese snack is made from a blend of coconut oil and starch and contains calcium as well as vegan-friendly vitamin B12.
Bel Group launched the vegan Babybel in Sainsbury’s stores, and the new product will roll out to other major retailers early this year, a “timely launch” that taps into the wave of demand for plant-based food sparked by Veganuary, the brand said.
“We’ve seen overwhelming demand for the development of a vegan-friendly Babybel over the years, and with the plant-based market continuing to grow substantially, the new launch is perfectly timed to meet this consumer appetite,” brand manager Ollie Richmond told The Grocer.
Vegan Babybel and beyond
In October 2020, Bel Group announced its plans to develop a plant-based version of every one of its core cheese brands.
Last April, it launched a dairy-free alternative to its famous Boursin cheese spread in the U.S., which was developed in partnership with heritage vegan brand, Follow Your Heart. In December, the popular Gournay cheese hit major UK retailers.
So far, Bel Group has not revealed details about a vegan version of Laughing Cow. However, the Orgelet, France-based parent company did introduce a range of Laughing Cow cheese made from a blend of dairy and legumes, such as chickpeas and red beans. It said that its goal is to target the increasing flexitarian market.
Last March, it launched its first exclusively vegan brand, called Nurishh, in the U.S. Its current range includes slices and shreds in varieties including cheddar and mozzarella.
Bel has also acquired a majority stake in All in Foods. The French startup that produces the vegan cheese brand Nature & Moi. At the time, the company acknowledged that the acquisition would help speed up the development of its own plant-based products across its existing brands.
The multinational brand is not the only dairy giant to diversify into plant-based options. Danone, maker of Danon, Oikos, Activia, and other brands, acquired WhiteWave Foods, the parent company to well-known vegan brands including Silk, So Delicious, and Alpro in 2017.