Nestlé announced earlier this week that it will be rolling out a vegan version of its iconic KitKat chocolate bar. The plant-based bar, called KitKat V, is set to launch later this year in several countries, not including the US, to test the opportunity for a wider rollout. For now, it will only be available online through KitKat Chocolatory and in select retailers.
The move is Nestlé’s first vegan chocolate product inspired by a dairy-based chocolate bar, which will allow plant-based eaters to enjoy a KitKat without compromise. Nestlé assures KitKat V will have the “perfect balance between crispy wafer and smooth chocolate.” After all, the vegan-certified chocolate bar took the company two years to develop.
“One of the most common requests we see on social media is for a vegan KitKat, so we’re delighted to be able to make that wish come true,” said Alexander von Maillot, Head of Confectionery at Nestlé, in a company statement. “I can’t wait for people to be able to try this amazingly tasty new KitKat. This is a product for everyone who wants a little more plant-based in their life!”
So, what makes the new KitKat vegan? The formula ditches dairy milk, which is used in regular KitKats, and replaces it with a rice-based alternative. KitKat V also uses new sustainable cocoa sourced through the Nestlé Cocoa Plan. According to von Maillot, the biggest challenge in swapping out dairy milk for a plant-based substitute is ensuring it blends well with the sugar and cocoa for a creamy texture. Other alternatives, such as soy or almond milk, can disrupt that creamy consistency.
“Taste was a key factor when developing the plant-based chocolate for our new vegan KitKat,” said Louise Barrett, Head of the Nestlé Confectionery Product Technology Center, in the same statement. “We used our expertise in ingredients, together with a test and learn approach, to create a delicious vegan alternative to our original chocolate KitKat.”
While this is Nestlé’s first time “veganizing” an existing chocolate bar, it’s not the company’s first foray into plant-based dairy. In recent years, Nestlé has been diversifying its portfolio to include vegan versions of some of its popular products. Nestlé-owned brand Carnation released a vegan version of its condensed milk last year at select locations of a UK supermarket chain. And in Canada, Nestlé offers vegan vanilla and caramel flavors of its Drumstick ice cream.
Other big food brands are taking part in the vegan sweets revolution. Mars, for example, launched a line of vegan chocolate bars in 2019. Other manufacturers, including Lindt and Cadbury, have also launched vegan candy and chocolate. By introducing vegan confectionery products, manufacturers are removing the barriers for plant-based eaters and encouraging those that aren’t vegan to embrace new options.
With plant-based alternatives for dairy growing at a rapid speed, it’s no surprise the consumer trend is moving toward indulgences. KitKat V signals the potential for other companies to introduce vegan versions of their own chocolate bars and candies. It also indicates a move toward more sustainable practices, especially in the cocoa industry.