Source: Saputo Dairy UK

The range includes three formats including block, sliced and grated

Saputo Dairy UK has unveiled a major new addition to its market-leading Cathedral City brand: a first move into vegan cheese.

Made from a combination of coconut oil and potato starch, Cathedral City Plant Based started rolling into Tesco stores nationwide on Monday 12 September in three formats – block (rsp: £3.60/280g), sliced (rsp: £2.30/150g) and grated (rsp: £2.30/150g).

In development for several years, the new range’s taste profile was based on the brand’s “creamy” cheddar, helping it deliver “the great quality people know and expect from Cathedral City”, Saputo said.

Plant-based alternatives to cheese were already worth £40.2m [IRI Total Grocers, 52 w/e 6 August], with 7% of UK households [Kantar Worldpanel 52 w/e 7 August] buying the products, the supplier added.

But by launching Cathedral City into the category, the NPD would “reinvigorate” the vegan cheese landscape, Saputo claimed.

“Demand for free-from alternatives is soaring but for some shoppers, such as flexitarians, there hasn’t been an offering which is good enough to encourage them to purchase regularly,” said Neil Stewart, Cathedral City’s head of marketing.

“That’s where our new Plant Based range comes in,” he added, which boasted a “delicious and unrivalled flavour and texture”.

Shoppers were said to have already offered positive feedback on the product, with a survey run by Cathedral City finding that 84% of those leading a dairy-free lifestyle confirmed they would buy the plant-based range.

Cathedral City also hoped to win over those looking to reduce their consumption of dairy products without having to “sacrifice taste, texture or quality” with the new range.

“This launch is a momentous occasion for Cathedral City – extending our portfolio into dairy-free alternatives for the first time with a range of great tasting alternatives to cheese, meaning more people can enjoy our delicious products,” Stewart added.

The launch is being supported by social media, online and in-store shopper marketing to drive awareness and trial of the new products.

It follows the acquisition in May 2021 by Saputo of vegan cheese pioneer – and owner of the Sheese brand – Bute Island Foods.

Saputo, which also owns UK plant-based spread and cheese alternative brand Vitalite – said the acquisition of Sheese was part of a commitment to “expand our footprint in the dairy alternatives space to meet the changing demands of our customers and consumers”.

Cathedral City is by far the best-selling cheese in the UK, with the brand posting sales of £289.1m last year, some 3.6% down on a lockdown-driven bumper 2020 [NielsenIQ The Grocer Top Products 52 w/e 11 September 2021]. This was more than double the sales of its nearest rival Philadelphia.