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Boxed Mac N Cheese: Retailers Embrace Plant-Based Comfort Foods


The boxed macaroni and cheese market, a long-standing comfort food staple, is experiencing a significant evolution as it embraces plant-based alternatives, signaling a shift in consumer preferences towards more health-conscious and sustainable options. This transition is exemplified by industry giants like Kraft, which recently launched its “Kraft NotMac&Cheese,” a plant-based version of its iconic mac and cheese, in collaboration with TheNotCompany, Inc. This move is not only a nod to the growing demand for plant-based foods but also a testament to the industry’s adaptability in meeting contemporary dietary trends.

The inception of boxed mac and cheese dates back to the Great Depression, emerging as an affordable, palatable, and nourishing option for American families. Kraft’s introduction of its boxed macaroni and cheese in 1937 marked the beginning of a legacy, with the product becoming a quintessential budget-friendly meal. However, the landscape of comfort food is changing, with health and dietary goals increasingly influencing consumer choices. Kraft’s foray into the plant-based domain with offerings like original and white cheddar with shells, priced at $3.49 per box, represents a significant step towards redefining comfort food for the modern consumer.

Kraft is not alone in this journey. The market is witnessing a surge in pasta-focused brands that cater to the health-conscious consumer. Goodles, which boasts partnerships with celebrities like Gal Gadot and offers added fiber and protein, and other brands like Banza, Daiya, and Annie’s, are expanding the mac and cheese aisle with their dairy-free products. This diversification reflects a broader industry trend towards plant-based eating, driven by consumer interest in healthier and environmentally friendly alternatives.

The expansion of the macaroni and cheese market to include plant-based options demonstrates a pivotal shift in consumer expectations. Retailers are presented with a lucrative opportunity to tap into this growing segment, offering products that cater to a wide range of dietary preferences without compromising on the taste and comfort that mac and cheese represents. The partnership between Kraft and TheNotCompany, Inc. underscores the potential for innovation in traditional food categories, leveraging plant-based alternatives to create new consumer experiences.

As the plant-based movement continues to gain momentum, the evolution of the boxed macaroni and cheese market serves as a case study in adapting legacy products to meet modern dietary trends. For retailers, embracing this shift represents a chance to align with consumer values around health, sustainability, and animal welfare, while capitalizing on the enduring appeal of a classic comfort food