The New Plant-Based Snacking Cheese Wheel
By Sara Moffett, Deli Manager, Co-op Owner
Babybel’s classic cheeses are wrapped up in red wax packages, nice little snacks to enjoy whenever. But, until recently, the brand did not have any products that would appeal to a growing dairy-free population. Released to the US in March of 2022, a new green wax wrapped cheese has finally arrived!
This new plant-based wheel is adorned with a sweet little flower on the front of its packaging along with the classic Babybel logo, and under the logo you’ll see the certified vegan identifier. The vegan snack is coated in green wax to show it is plant-based and to stand out from the classic red design. In addition, according to VegOut Magazine, the packaging is made of 80% paper and the wrappers are certified home compostable.
Babybel claims that this new cheese “mimics the same great taste” of its classic cheeses “in a certified plant-based, non-GMO project verified, and certified vegan snack.” The cheese is crafted to taste similar to mozzarella, with a soft and smooth, creamy texture and provides a good source of calcium and vitamin B12.
In a recent article at Food Business News, Shannon Maher, chief marketing officer at Bel Brands USA, is quoted as stating:
“We believe we can set the tone for the future of the cheese industry through a consumer-and consumer-centric approach to innovation that focuses on products that meet evolving demands, even as those demands continue to shift. . . . To get plant-based cheese right, you need to know what makes cheese cheese. And that’s exactly what (consumers have) trusted us to do for over 150 years.”
In a separate article at Food and Wine, Maher says:
“At Bel Brands USA, we have a continued commitment to bringing forward great tasting cheese options that meet our consumers’ evolving needs, including expanding our portfolio to plant-based offerings. Plant-based snack cheese offerings to date lack a true dairy flavor and texture. We recognized this gap and went to work to develop this delicious snack so that every cheese lover has the opportunity to enjoy Babybel.”
The company, which also owns several other cheese brands, and is not a stranger to dairy-free cheeses as it also owns Nurishh, an entire line of vegan cheese, as well as plant-based Boursin Dairy-Free, is slated to bring in a plant-based version of Laughing Cow cheese in 2023.
Furthermore, Babybel development platform manager Katie Halgerson adds that:
“It’s no secret in the dairy industry that cheese is one of the most technically challenging spaces for dairy alternatives because of its complexity . . . [a]nd the plant-based cheese category has largely struggled to deliver offerings that are delicious, accessible and meet consumers’ expectations of cheese – until now.” (Food Business News)
I personally had to try the cheese to see if it lived up to the internet hype that it is currently getting. I thought that the product is modestly priced, the packaging is super cute and I appreciate the efforts of the company to provide more options to all shoppers, especially those with children like mine that have dairy sensitivities. I don’t think it is a direct replacement for their flagship cheeses, and if you are expecting it to taste just like dairy cheese, it will probably miss the mark, but if you are looking for a little plant-based snack, Babybel Plant-Based might be right for you!