Tuesday, 16 February 2021 09:30

Staff Reporter.

Nestle SA is adding its first vegan milk chocolate to its products as the world’s biggest food company expands beyond meat alternatives.

The Swiss food giant will start offering plant-based KitKat bars this year, called KitKat V, according to Alexander von Maillot, head of Nestle’s confectionery business.

The product will be for sale online and at selected stores in a handful of markets including the UK as a test run before a possible wider rollout.

The bar, which uses a rice-based formula as a milk substitute, took about two years to develop. The main challenge in making alternatives to milk chocolate is ensuring it blends well with cocoa and sugar for a creamy texture.

The new vegan KitKat – called KitKat V – will be launched later in the year in several countries across the globe. It will only be available through the KitKat Chocolatory and selected retailers, to test the opportunity for a wider roll-out.

Other substitutes, such as soy or almond formulas, can create off-notes, von Maillot said.

While there are quite a few small labels that make vegan milk chocolate, most of the popular brands haven’t yet joined in on the trend.

Lindt & Spruengli AG, better known for its Easter bunnies wrapped in golden foil, has started selling oat milk-based chocolate bars under its Hello label. Mars Inc has introduced a vegan version of its Galaxy bars in the UK Mondelez International Inc’s Cadbury has also announced plans to make plant-based milk chocolate.

Demand for plant-based food is growing everywhere,” von Maillot said in a phone interview. "KitKat was a logical choice, as it’s by far the biggest brand and a global brand."

Confectionery is one of Nestle’s last categories to join the plant-based trend. Nestle Purina last year introduced a blended pet food line, adding insects and plant protein from fava beans and millet to the meat protein.

Nestle introduced sausage substitutes last year and also makes plant-based mince and non-dairy ice cream and coffee products.