Philadelphia Cream Cheese Is Launching 3 New Vegan Flavors

Good news for the dairy-free crowd in the United States! Philadelphia has rolled out three new plant-based "cream cheese" flavors: chive and onion, original, and strawberry. Now available in grocery stores everywhere, each flavor is free from dairy, gluten, lactose, and artificial dyes. Plus, they're kosher! The new plant-based spread is made of a proprietary blend of coconut oil, modified potato starch, and faba bean protein.

In a press release, Philadelphia's senior brand manager, Keenan White, called the launch an "important milestone." According to White, this expansion marks the "first mainstream cream cheese brand launching a plant-based spread option with widespread accessibility across the U.S."  

In recent years, Philadelphia has held a 69% share of the cream cheese category, according to a 2021 report from IRI and Mintel Data. The expansion of vegan cream cheese product lines nationwide shows proven success in developing a recipe that meets the criteria of good cream cheese, something the market had previously struggled with.

A brave new world (of vegan cream cheese)

According to the 2021 report, 52% of consumers wanted to incorporate more plant-based foods into their diets. The size of the "flexitarian" market outpaces that of the vegan market by more than 20 times. Per Fortune Business Insights, the global market for dairy alternatives, valued at $25.19 billion in 2022 and expected to reach $69.84 billion in 2030, is primarily driven by lactose intolerance. 

There's a perception that alternatives are more nutritious than conventional dairy and lessen the environmental impact of dairy production. However, alternative cream cheese has lagged, falling behind non-dairy milk in popularity and repurchasing. The texture, flavor, and production of cream cheese are hard enough for traditional producers. Plant-based options have different challenges; the recipe for its new plant-based spread took more than two years to develop.

When Philadelphia launched a regional test of its first plant-based spread in late 2022, fewer than half of consumers that tried existing vegan cream cheeses repurchased. After trying the Philadelphia option, 70% of purchasers said the product exceeded their expectations. Within the first two quarters of 2023, despite its non-dairy spread only being available in one region and one flavor (plain), Philadelphia had already climbed to sixth in the rankings of best plant-based cream cheese in the United States. With the nationwide launch and two additional flavors, today marks a big turning point for non-dairy consumers — and perhaps the vegan cream cheese market en masse.