MEAT-free giant Quorn Foods plans to spend hundreds of millions of pounds ramping up its infrastructure as part of plans to become a billion dollar brand in the next decade, it announced today.
The firm, which is headquartered in Stokesley, North Yorkshire, is to invest £150m in expanding its Billingham site in Teeside, which will create 300 jobs over the next five years.
Chief executive Kevin Brennan told The Yorkshire Post it is also looking to build new research and development and new product development facilities in Stokesley.
The new commitment comes after Quorn increased global sales by 19 per cent during the first half of 2017. UK sales grew 15 per cent.
Quorn Foods is on track to become a billion dollar (£770m) brand by 2027.
Last year it posted a £170m turnover. At the time, Mr Brennan said the business needed to grow by 15 per cent per year to reach its goal.
“We’re actually tracking ahead of expected growth,” he said today. “We’re very pleased with the breadth of growth around world; strong UK as well as growth and general progress in US and other international markets.”
The £150m investment will cover the expansion of the company’s main manufacturing facility at Billingham, which it says will make it the largest facility of its kind globally.
The site produces the core protein that is the main ingredient for its products, while the Stokesley site forms that protein into mince, burgers and other products.
The investment means the company will be able to ‘form’ at Billingham. Mr Brennan said: “It’s part of the increased production we need to continue to grow.”
The development will create construction, operation and support services jobs.
Quorn Foods recently invested £2m in a new combined heat and power plant, in partnership with Veolia, which is expected to save 2,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.
Mr Brennan said: “We are proud to be contributing to the UK’s export drive and to be investing in a British innovation that is vital to addressing the future need for protein across a growing global population.”
He added that Quorn’s growth will continue as expected, regardless of the Brexit deal that is reached, and that today’s investment announcement is indicative of its confidence.
Mr Brennan told The Yorkshire Post that in the current situation he would prefer a softer Brexit “so there is as little disruption to trading as possible.”
He said that without a free trade deal with the EU the UK would be able to ‘survive’ but probably not ‘thrive’ for many years. “However, we at Quorn Foods have growth opportunities around the world so we are less exposed,” he added.
Growth has been strong in the EU, where Quorn Foods continues to invest. The company has, however, driven aggressively outside the EU.
The US business is up 40 per cent, Australia 35 per cent, and Asia, a new market for Quorn Foods, is also succeeding.
The company’s ambitious growth plans are rooted in the belief there is a genuine move by consumers to reduce their intake of meat.
Quorn makes its products using mycoprotein which it says is low in saturated fat and produces fewer greenhouse gas emissions than meat.
The carbon footprint of Quorn frozen mince in the UK is claimed to be at least 80 per cent less than that of beef.
Quorn is owned by Philippine food giant Monde Nissin.
The company bought the Quorn from Exponent Private Equity and Intermediate Capital Group in 2015 and set the ambitious goal of turning it into a billion dollar company by 2027.
Much of this growth will come from the international market.
The meat-free brand, which operates in a number of international markets, is seeing its products perform strongly overseas, particularly in the US.
Quorn employs 714 staff and is headquartered in Stokesley, North Yorkshire.
The £150m investment announced today means that Quorn will be able to add two fermentation facilities with forming capability at the Billingham site.
This is in addition to the current construction of a new forming line which will link into the fermentation process to provide continuous production.
Construction of the two new fermentation facilities will start next year and complete by the end of 2019.