KANSAS CITY — The cheese and cheese-alternative snacking category is expanding with companies introducing new flavors and plant-based alternatives.

Babybel, known for its small cheese wheels, debuted a plant-based version of the popular snack. The plant-based alternative is wrapped in green wax instead of the classic red wax of the dairy version.

“At Bel Brands USA, we believe we can set the tone for the future of the cheese industry through a consumer- and customer-centric approach to innovation that focuses on products that meet evolving demands, even as those demands continue to shift,” said Shannon Maher, chief marketing officer, Bel Brands USA. “To get plant-based cheese right, you need to know what makes cheese cheese. And that's exactly what (consumers have) trusted us to do for over 150 years.”

Also noting the consumer popularity of non-dairy alternatives is Good Planet Foods, who debuted its smoked cheddar and smoked gouda cheese wheels, made with allergen-free ingredients.

“With our new smoked wheels, we are doing just that,” said Bart Adlam, co-chief executive officer at Good Planet Foods. “These naturally smoked offerings will bring the joy of cheese to consumers who are vegan, flexitarian or just trying to make a small step toward a healthier diet and planet.”

View slideshow of cheese snacks.