Is dairy-free mac & cheese still mac & cheese? Kraft hopes you'll think so

FILE-A Kraft Foods sign is displayed near its corporate headquarters in Northfield, Illinois. (Photo by Tim Boyle/Getty Images)

Kraft Macaroni and… Fava Beans?

The Kraft Heinz Co. said Wednesday it’s bringing dairy-free macaroni and cheese to the U.S. for the first time. The company said the new recipe has the same creamy texture and flavor of its beloved 85-year-old original Mac & Cheese but replaces dairy with ingredients like fava bean protein and coconut oil powder.

The plant-based Kraft NotMac & Cheese, which will be rolled out to U.S. stores over the next few months, was developed in collaboration with Not Co., a Chicago startup that makes plant-based milk, burgers and other products.

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Kraft Heinz, which is based in Pittsburgh and Chicago, formed a joint venture with Not Co. last year. The joint venture, called The Kraft Heinz Not Co., has already released non-dairy cheese slices and mayonnaise in the U.S. It plans to add more products and begin international distribution next year.

Kraft Heinz began selling vegan macaroni and cheese in Australia in 2021, but this will be the first time it's been sold in the U.S.

Kraft Heinz Not Co. CEO Lucho Lopez-May said sales of plant-based macaroni and cheese products are outpacing the overall category. But less than 30% of buyers purchase the products a second time, citing disappointing taste and texture.

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Lopez-May said Kraft Heinz Not Co. aims to meet consumers’ preference for plant-based foods with familiar flavors that don't force them to make drastic changes to their eating habits. Kraft sells more than 1 million boxes of its original Mac & Cheese every day.

NotMac & Cheese will be available in white cheddar and original flavors. Kraft Heinz didn’t provide a full ingredient list or nutrition information, but the plant-based box advertises 310 calories per serving, which is more than the 250 calories in the original. It is also higher in saturated fat but lower in sugar.