US cheese maker Bel launches plant-based brand as PepsiCo refreshes its own to attract more customers

US – Competition in the US plant-based market is set to rise even higher following the decision by US-based French cheesemaker Bel Group and beverage company Pepsico to intensify their activity in the plant-based market.

Bel Group is launching Nurishh, the company’s first 100% plant-based cheese brand while PepsiCo is overhauling its own plant-based brand, Evolve in bid to make it a household name

“Nurishh really delivers on both taste and functionality. It strikes the balance between genuine cheesy taste and meltability, while also giving the comfort of being a plant-based product,” Florian Decaux, Bel’s plant-based acceleration director, said.

Nurishh was born out of a collaboration between Bel Group and All in Foods, which has experience in the field given that it already has an existing brand in France called Nature & Moi.

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Decaux  explained that the company has worked to minimize the ingredient list and increase the nutritional value.

On average, each Nurishh product contains 10 ingredients with main ingredient for all of the varieties being coconut oil.

Nurishh, which was developed after the company committed to adding plant-based options to its signature cheeses, will be sold globally after its initial debut in the United States.

While there are currently plant-based and hybrid versions of Boursin and The Laughing Cow for sale, analysts note that the launch of a 100% plant-based represents a departure from that strategy and is a testament to the company’s confidence in the segment.

The launch shows that Bel really wants to be at the forefront of the plant-based cheese movement, Bill Graham, CEO of Bel Brands USA, said.

PepsiCo overhauls plant-based brand Evolve

Meanwhile, at PepsiCo, work has already started to rebrand the lesser-known plant-based line, Evolve, and transform it into its next mainstream product

A successful overhaul would accelerate PepsiCo’s presence in the fast-growing category as consumers curtail their consumption of animal-based products and gravitate toward foods with more functional benefits.

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PepsiCo acquired Evolve from Hormel Foods in 2019 for US$465 million and has been making changes to the brand ahead of an eventual reintroduction.

Some of the changes seen so far include reformulating Evolve to boost the fiber content of its bars, ready-to-drink shakes, and powders and plotting ways to expand its reach to include a broader active outdoor audience.

The Evolve brand has now embarked on a relaunch with a new advertising campaign, as well as refreshed packaging that underscores its commitment to the outdoors.

The CPG giant has also renamed the brand’s products — Ideal Vanilla is now Vanilla Bean, for example, and Mellow Mocha is now Cafe Mocha – to make them more appealing to a wider base of customers.

“This relaunch is not about staying true to the brand DNA but really catapulting it into the mainstream in a way that the brand hasn’t been in the past,” said Laura Gardner, senior director of the active fitness portfolio at PepsiCo.

The relaunch of Evolve is the latest in a series of moves by PepsiCo to increase its presence in plant-based foods.

In January, PepsiCo established a joint venture called The PLANeT Partnership with Beyond Meat that will develop, produce and market snack and beverage products made from plant-based protein.

PepsiCo in recent years also has purchased plant-based protein bar, mix and snack maker Health Warrior; baked fruit and vegetable snack maker Bare; and BFY Brands, the maker of PopCorners.

Most recently, in March, Hilo Life, a company within PepsiCo’s Hive accelerator, launched an almond flour-based tortilla chip targeting keto and carb-conscious eaters.

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