Kraft Says its Plant-Based Mac and Cheese Has the Same Texture, Flavor

It's also not necessarily healthier than the original.

Kraft logo at its headquarters in Northfield, Ill., March 25, 2015.
Kraft logo at its headquarters in Northfield, Ill., March 25, 2015.
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File

Kraft Macaroni and … Fava Beans?

The Kraft Heinz Co. said Wednesday it's bringing dairy-free macaroni and cheese to the U.S. for the first time. The company said the new recipe has the same creamy texture and flavor of its beloved 85-year-old original Mac & Cheese but replaces dairy with ingredients like fava bean protein and coconut oil powder.

The plant-based Kraft NotMac&Cheese, which will be rolled out to U.S. stores over the next few months, was developed in collaboration with Not Co., a Chicago startup that makes plant-based milk, burgers and other products.

Kraft Heinz, which is based in Pittsburgh and Chicago, formed a joint venture with Not Co. last year. The joint venture, called The Kraft Heinz Not Co., has already released non-dairy cheese slices and mayonnaise in the U.S. It plans to add more products and begin international distribution next year.

Kraft Heinz began selling vegan macaroni and cheese in Australia in 2021, but this will be the first time it's been sold in the U.S.

Kraft Heinz Not Co. CEO Lucho Lopez-May said sales of plant-based macaroni and cheese products are outpacing the overall category. But less than 30% of buyers purchase the products a second time, citing disappointing taste and texture.

Lopez-May said Kraft Heinz Not Co. aims to meet consumers' preference for plant-based foods with familiar flavors that don't force them to make drastic changes to their eating habits. Kraft sells more than 1 million boxes of its original Mac & Cheese every day.

NotMac&Cheese will be available in white cheddar and original flavors.

While it's made from plants, NotMac&Cheese isn't necessarily healthier than the original. When fully prepared with margarine and almond milk, 1 cup of NotMac&Cheese has 450 calories; by comparison, 1 cup of original Mac & Cheese prepared with margarine and 2% milk is 350 calories. The plant-based dry mix is higher in fat and carbohydrates. But it's also lower in cholesterol and has more protein and fiber.

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