Multinational French cheese giant Bel Group aims to have vegan Mini Babybel cheese in U.S. supermarkets by next year
According to a press release, Bel aims to go beyond just Babybel. A plant-based version of Boursin soft cheese will be available through Amazon Fresh by the end of this month. It also aims to launch a vegan offering for each of its core brands, which also includes The Laughing Cow. In addition to that, it will introduce a new international brand dedicated to vegan products.
Taking on the Plant-Based Market
In October 2019, the cheese giant introduced its new signature, “For All. For Good,” to represent its commitment to becoming a more sustainable and healthy food company. With it, the 155-year-old brand announced its intention to enter the “plant-based snack market.” Cheese has a big impact on the planet: a 2011 report from the Environmental Working Group found that cheese production emits the third-highest amount of greenhouse gases out of animal-based foods, ranking behind lamb and beef.
“Five generations into its history, our company has reached a milestone,” Antoine Fievet, Chairman and CEO of the Bel, said in a statement. “We are today confronted with the challenge of feeding a growing world population, while preserving our planet’s resources. The food business model that we all know is obsolete. It’s time to open the road to healthier and responsible food for all. And we food manufacturers must provide real answers.”
Bel acquired a majority stake in All in Foods, a 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.
Bel will also dip its toes into a relatively new category: blended products. The brand will launch The Laughing Cow Blends—dairy cheese blended with plant-based ingredients—in January 2021 across the US, UK, Canada, and Germany. It is specifically targeting markets “where there is strong potential among flexitarians.”
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, parent company to well-known vegan brands including Silk, So Delicious, and Alpro in 2017.