FOOD giant Quorn is set to create hundreds of jobs in Yorkshire by pumping a further £7 million into a new product development centre.
The company also revealed that it reeled in £112 million in like-for-like sales in the first six months of the year, which is up from around £100 million during the same period in 2017.
It has announced a further investment in its new “Global Innovation Centre”, which will break ground this summer and be based at its headquarters in Stokesley, North Yorkshire.
The site will help bolster its capabilities in fermenting proteins like soy - which are core to its products - and also help to develop new products.
Quorn said it will help create “hundreds of jobs” in the region over the next five years.
Quorn has been capitalising on a growing appetite for meat-free products amid the growing popularity of vegan, vegetarian and so-called flexitarian diets, with the sector growing by 10 to 20 per cent year on year.
Chief executive Kevin Brennan said: “With category momentum we are confident we can become a $1bn business in under 10 years.”
“We are seeing lots of Silicon Valley investment and hype in this space but we have already built up 30 years of expertise in the meat-free category.
“With our renewed investment in R&D (research and development) we expect to lead the way for decades to come. We hope to demonstrate that there are great British businesses in the North that can win on a global stage.
“We are already seeing amazing growth internationally: Australian sales are up 50% and US sales are up 23%. In the US supermarket giant Kroger, we now have the fastest selling product in the category.
“With continued investment we believe we can continue this level of performance.”
Quorn Foods offers products that appeal to the rapidly expanding group of people who want to reduce their meat consumption.
The company employs 800 people and exports to 20 countries, including Australia, South Africa and the USA.
In February, Quorn revealed that strong demand for vegan meals had boosted its annual sales. The firm said sales have also been boosted by a sharp increase in “flexitarians” - people who eat a plant-based diet with the occasional addition of meat.
Quorn said sales totalled £205m in 2017 after an “unprecedented” second half.
The group said its billion-dollar ambition is grounded in the fact that many consumers are now choosing to eat less meat for a number of reasons.
While health is the leading factor, demand is accelerating due to an increased awareness of the environmental impact of meat production.
This is leading to a reduction in meat consumption, and in many cases, to a complete shift to vegan diets, underlined by the growing popularity of “Veganuary” (going vegan in January) which now has more than 115,000 registered followers globally.
Speaking in February, Mr Brennan said: “Around the world we are seeing a significant increase in meat-reduction diets, including both flexitarianism and veganism. The vegan trend is something that Quorn Foods is responding to with the launch of more and more vegan products such as Quorn Vegan Chicken-free Slices, Quorn Vegan Hot and Spicy Burger, and Quorn Vegan Fishless Fingers, which are winning around the world .
“Choosing to eat Quorn products is about more than choosing great tasting food. It’s about a mindful choice to care for you and your family’s health, and also for the health of the planet.”
Quorn has been recognised as one of the UK’s top 50 FMCG (fast moving consumer goods) brands. Quorn Foods is the reporting group, which includes a main trading company, Marlow Foods Ltd.