Quorn to grow capacity at HQ to meet rising demand

THE chief executive of Quorn Foods said that the firm plans to make a significant investment in its North Yorkshire headquarters to increase capacity as it reported its fastest-ever growth in 2013.

Kevin Brennan.
Kevin Brennan.

Stokesley-based Quorn Foods, which provides meat-alternative foods, said that it attracted 12.2 million consumers in the UK in 2013, up two million on the previous year.

Kevin Brennan told the Yorkshire Post: “That’s the first time in the UK that the number of users that we have is now more non-vegetarians than vegetarians.”

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Mr Brennan said that the firm is in the final stages of planning a major capital investment to increase capacity by 50 per cent. The investment will be across the company’s Stokesley and Teesside-based sites, he said.

Quorn Foods said its UK business reported a 13 per cent growth in total sales last year, and a 20 per cent increase in like-for-like sales in the final quarter of the year.

“The opportunity we’ve seen while we’ve been investing in the brand is to build beyond the historical vegetarian audience and bring in a lot of healthy eaters, that can be people eating healthily from a weight management point of view... but also people trying to be more fit and healthy in total,” said Mr Brennan.

“Over the last three years, since we took the business private, we’ve been investing very, very heavily behind that. One driver has been the success of that investment.”

Quorn Foods has invested in advertising and the research and development of new products.

Mr Brennan said the firm has also seen “a lasting effect” of the horsemeat scandal which broke a year ago when horsemeat was discovered in beef products in UK supermarkets.

“We obviously saw a (positive) blip in sales when it happened but what is clearer is we are seeing a group of consumers clearly make a significant change.”

He said that the scandal rose awareness among consumers of how much meat they eat, with people looking for alternative vegetarian options.

“It’s about just cutting down a little bit on meat but obviously because we eat so much just a small change in that behaviour is a big growth opportunity for us and we think that is going to keep going as we go forward.”

Mr Brennan said the trend was already happening, but the horsemeat debacle has “put some momentum behind it”.

Quorn Foods said that it has had “a sustained increase” in sales since the horsemeat scandal broke.

Turnover for Quorn Foods, including its sales in the UK and abroad, grew year-on-year from £133m to £143m in 2013, said Mr Brennan.

The company employs around 600 people and exports to 13 countries around the world, including Australia and the United States.