Updated February 15, 2020: Nestlé has confirmed that it is launching vegan KitKat bars this year.
Vegan KitKat bars are coming to the UK, Nestlé has confirmed.
The vegan chocolate bars, called KitKat V, will launch sometime this year, Bloomberg reports. The product will first be launched online and in select stores as a test run before a wider rollout.
“Demand for plant-based food is growing everywhere,” said Alexander von Maillot, head of Nestlé’s confectionery business. “KitKat was a logical choice, as it’s by far the biggest brand and a global brand.”
Last week, Vegan Food UK, a social media platform that regularly posts rumors related to new products in the vegan space, posted about the upcoming vegan KitKat bars. We can now confirm the product’s release.
What Makes KitKat Vegan?
The classic KitKat bar contains nonfat milk, milkfat, and lactose. KitKat V will be made with a rice-based recipe, which took Nestlé two years to develop. Maillot explained that one of the challenges in making vegan chocolates is ensuring that it has a creamy texture. Other plant milks, such as soy, can create off-notes.
Is Nestlé Ethical?
Nestlé is the world’s largest food and drink company. And in recent years, it has made moves to appeal to the fast-growing plant-based food market, which is expected to reach £1.1 billion by 2023, according to Mintel. It recently launched vegan condensed oat milk. And as for chocolate, Nestlé offers a dark chocolate Aero bar that’s free from milk.
But for years, Nestlé has been under fire for how it sources its cocoa (on a laundry list of other issues).
Bloomberg reports that today, Nestlé and Mars, another company known for chocolate bars, and Cargill, were named in a federal class-action lawsuit filed by International Rights Advocates, a human rights group, for alleged complicity in forced labor and trafficking. The plaintiffs say they were trafficked as children and forced into labor on the Ivory Coast, the world’s biggest exporter and producer of cocoa.
On its website, Nestlé states that it is “working with our partners and cocoa growing communities to address the root causes of child labor.” The company kicked off its Child Labor Monitoring and Remediation System program in 2012, which monitors more than 78,000 children in the Ivory Coast for signs of forced labor.
Despite promises, there is evidence that much of the world’s chocolate supply depends heavily on child labor. A recent report from the U.S. Department of Labor found that the West African cocoa industry was exploiting 1.6 million West African child laborers.
When Will Vegan KitKat Come to the US?
Will vegan KitKat bars launch in the US? Nestlé has said that KitKat V will not launch in the states, where it is produced by Hershey as part of a licensing agreement. The company has not revealed further information beyond the initial UK launch.
Looking for some fairtrade, vegan chocolate? Check out our list here.