US – Canadian dairy company Saputo has expanded its vegan-certified, dairy-free cheese brand Vitalite beyond the UK market to the United States citing foreseen growth potential in the vegan cheese category globally.

Saputo said the demand for vegan cheese is being fueled by a growing number of consumers following vegan, plant-based, and flexitarian diets, as well as mounting climate change and animal welfare concerns.

In addition, the rising cases of lactose intolerance and other food-related allergies among children and adults have changed the food preferences of consumers in recent years to vegan products.

 According to the data provided by the Food Intolerance Network, in 2019, around 70% of the population of the world suffered from lactose intolerance.

Saputo expressed satisfaction with the report from the Food institute that projects the global vegan cheese market to grow at a compound annual rate of about 10% and reach a market value of about US$7 billion by 2030.

David Cherrie, vice president of marketing and innovation at Saputo Dairy USA stated: “Our consumer research showed that vegan cheeses weren’t meeting expectations for taste, texture, and performance.”

As a dairy company, we are experts at making cheese people love and crave. Where other plant-based cheeses fall short, we saw an opportunity to use our expertise in the cheese category to create a delicious plant-based alternative.”

The journey into the vegan cheese space for Saputo started in February 2019 with the acquisition of Dairy Crest Group PLC, a UK-based dairy company that owned the Vitalite brand and used it on sunflower oil-based spreads.

This got the dairy giant into the UK and later in 2021, it acquired vegan cheese manufacturer Bute Island Foods Ltd. which has been manufacturing cheese alternatives for more than 30 years for retail and food service.

Soon after Saputo acquired the vegan company, it brought the Vitalite brand into the dairy-free cheese segment.

Cherrie noted that the vegan brand was in the UK for about six months before the Montreal-based dairy brought it to the US, where the company first offered the brand through Chicago-based Rosati’s Pizza.

The shredded mozzarella-style cheese became available as an ingredient on all 12-inch and 14-inch pizzas in June and the company is rolling out six varieties, including mozzarella and cheddar style shreds and slices, plus grated Parmesan style and a creamy spread in retail packs in the US.

Jeff Rosati, chief financial officer at Rosati’s Pizza, happily said that customers with dietary restrictions can now enjoy the quality pizza Rosati’s is known for by substituting the classic whole milk mozzarella with Vitalite.

Menus and point-of-sale materials that use the Vitalite brand are helping Saputo raise consumer awareness for its retail launch this summer in select markets in the Midwest and East Coast, with expansion plans to move west.

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