Meat alternatives are becoming increasingly popular thanks to an increased health awareness. Most meat replacements however are of inferior quality, Quorn CEO Kevin Brennan said.
The demand for meat alternatives is on the rise and consumers are mainly driven to these new options because of health reasons, Brennen said to Foodnavigator. He feels meat consumption is unnecessarily high and unfavourable for public health: “Younger, more educated consumers are reducing their meat intake. They do not necessarily want to give up meat, but they want to have a diet that is more appropriate from a health point of view.” Even though meat’s environmental impact is often portrayed in the media, most people only marginally worry about that... but their awareness is growing.
The growing demand for vegetarian options has also resulted in an increased number of competitors, which makes it harder to acquire or maintain shelf space. “Most of these competitors create pretty lousy food”, Brennan feels. He feels that mycoprotein, Quorn’s corner stone, is the best option to mimic meat’s taste and texture, although there is room for improvement. The fermentation process is easy and the manufacturer only adds natural flavour additives.
Quorn aims to remain an attractive supplier with brand and category investments. “We are one of the few manufacturers that invest heavily in marketing and category management of the brand, rather than just trying to make a lot of money quickly, which is I think what is happening with a lot of people in the category. We invest with a long term view. We are looking at the next ten or twenty years in this category, not how much we are going to sell next quarter or next year.” This is also owner Monde Nissin’s investment philosophy: when volumes increase, profit will do the same. For that exact reason, the company does not want to increase prices and is happy to deal with lower margins.
Quorn invests 15 % of its net turnover in marketing and spends 12 million euro annually in R&D. The innovation team focuses on improved taste and texture for its existing product range. On the other hand, the company also expands its product range, with breakfast cereal, sausages, deli-type products, … It has a core product range that appeals to everyone everywhere, but also products catered to a specific audience. Most of Quorn’s turnover comes from Western countries, but it believes Asia has great potential, just like the rest of the world. “We see a shift to meat-free from Sydney to Santiago.”