Hershey launches vegan Reese’s – CNN

New York (CNN) Vegan Reese’s are on the rise.

Hershey, which makes Reese’s along with Hershey bars, Kisses and other chocolates and candies, announced two new dairy-free products on Tuesday: Reese’s plant-based peanut butter cups and a vegan Hershey chocolate bar with almonds and sea salt, each made with oats instead of dairy and designed to taste like milk chocolate. The new Reese’s variety will be available nationwide this month, and the new Hershey bar will arrive in April.

The company is the latest to introduce a vegan chocolate in hopes it will attract more customers. But Hershey is a little late to the game.

Nest (NSRGY) introduced KitKat V, a vegan version of the chocolate bar, in 2021. Mondelez (MDLZ) also acquired Hu, a company that makes vegan chocolate, that year. Hershey also started testing a version of its product in 2021.

In prepared remarks on the company’s fourth-quarter results, CEO Michele Buck said that “better for you,” which includes plant-based products, presented an opportunity for the company and “will gain more support this year.”

Hershey launches vegan Reese’s and a vegan Hershey bar.

“We are excited to introduce these delicious plant-based options,” said Teal Liu, Better For You brand manager Hershey (HSY)said in a statement announcing the launch Tuesday, adding that the new products provide more options for “chocolate lovers seeking plant-based alternatives.”

By focusing specifically on vegan alternatives to milk chocolate, Hershey may have a better chance of differentiating its products from others on the market.

“As the vegan chocolate space becomes increasingly crowded, claims beyond plant-based may be necessary,” Kelsey Olsen, consumer insights analyst for food and beverages at market research firm MIntel, told CNN in an email. “While many previously launched plant-based products are dark chocolate varieties, brands should explore the fields of plant-based milk chocolate and white chocolate.”

It can also help to use oats as an ingredient.

Confectioners “can take advantage of oat milk’s unique properties to appeal to a wider consumer base, whether they’re vegan or not,” Olsen said.

Chocolate as a category has been resilient in recent years, with people reaching for treats during the stress of the early pandemic and viewing it as a relatively affordable splurge even as prices rise.

But it’s not clear if an oat-based chocolate will do the trick. “The majority of consumers are not focused on added [better for you] components to chocolate,” Olsen noted in a Mintel report last year.






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