Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups are getting the vegan treatment.
The Hershey Company said on Tuesday that Reese’s plant-based peanut butter cups, which go on sale this month, will be its first vegan chocolates sold nationally. A second plant-based offering, Hershey’s plant-based extra creamy with almonds and sea salt, will follow in April.
The chocolates are made with oats instead of milk, Hershey said.
Hershey has experimented with vegan chocolate before. It sold an oat-based chocolate bar called Oat Made in some test markets starting in 2021. But the new products will be the first sold throughout the US under the “plant based” label.
Hershey said consumers want choice and are looking for products they consider healthier or with fewer ingredients, including reduced sugar and plant-based options. Hershey also introduced an organic version of Reese’s peanut butter cups in February 2021.
Younger consumers, in particular, are looking to reduce their consumption of animal-based products, says Euromonitor, a market research firm. In a 2021 survey, Euromonitor found that 54% of Gen Z consumers were restricting animal-based products in their diets, compared with 34% of baby boomers.
Nestle has sold its KitKat V, a vegan KitKat bar, in Europe since 2021, while Cadbury sells a vegan chocolate bar in the UK. But so far, US vegan chocolate options have generally been limited to premium brands, like Lindt, or organic chocolatiers like Hu Kitchen.
Hershey said it developed plant-based versions of Reese’s peanut butter cups and Hershey bars – some of its most popular products – because there’s a dearth of mainstream vegan chocolates in the US market.
The vegan versions will cost more. Hershey wouldn’t share details because it said retailers set final prices. But Rite Aid lists a 1.4-ounce package of two plant-based Reese’s peanut butter cups for $2.49; that’s about $1 more than consumers would pay for a regular package. Hershey charges a similar premium for the organic version.
And ditching the dairy won’t cut calories. While Hershey didn’t release all of the nutritional facts, the 1.4-ounce package of plant-based Reese’s peanut butter cups contains 210 calories; that’s the same number of calories as a 1.5-ounce package of the traditional candy.