Applewood Vegan

Norseland is expanding its Applewood smoked cheese range with a first foray into plant-based: Applewood Vegan.

Its positioning marked an “industry first”, claimed the supplier, with the vegan cheese marketed alongside standard dairy-based cheeses as part of the wider Applewood portfolio.

The coconut-based product will go on sale in Asda on 7 January (rsp: £2.30/200g block), and is also fortified with calcium and vitamin B12 to ensure it offered similar nutritional benefits to Applewood’s dairy cheese range.

It was manufactured in separate facilities to ensure no cross-contamination, was also gluten and soya-free and could be sliced, grated or melted while maintaining the smoky Applewood flavour, said Norseland senior brand manager Lisa Harrison.

It comes as sales for free-from cheese are booming, with value sales up 52% to £12.4m and volumes up 44% [Kantar Worldpanel 52w/e 7 October 2018].

Research by the supplier found that those following vegan, flexitarian or dairy-free diets “missed the taste of cheese” Harrison said.

“There is huge demand for a great-tasting cheese that melts really well,” she added. “We are considering creating more products targeting the vegan market as we see it as a trend that is here to stay. We have a pipeline of products to launch next year.”

The launch follows comes a month after Danone announced plans launch plant-based versions of its best-known dairy brands over the coming year, as part of a pledge to triple plant-based sales by 2025.