60-second interview: Kevin Brennan, CEO, Quorn

Quorn growing 30% YoY in the USA, says CEO

By Elaine Watson

- Last updated on GMT

Quorn mycoprotein is a single celled micro-organism from the fungus family made via a fermentation process
Quorn mycoprotein is a single celled micro-organism from the fungus family made via a fermentation process

Related tags Milk Bacteria

Meat & dairy alternatives are hot right now, if VC interest in Impossible Foods, Beyond Meat, Kite Hill and Hampton Creek, plus the recent acquisitions of Vega, So Delicious and Gardein are anything to go by. But what will Monde Nissin’s £550m ($838m) acquisition of Quorn Foods mean for the market?

Quorn, which is based in the UK, but has a growing presence in the North American market, occupies a unique place in this market in that its product (‘mycoprotein’) is vegetarian, but is not plant-based (it’s a single celled micro-organism from the fungus family), and is produced on a commercial scale via a continuous fermentation process.

FoodNavigator-USA (FNU) caught up with Quorn CEO Kevin Brennan just after the deal with Monde Nissin - one of the leading consumer packaged foods companies in the Philippines - was announced.

FNU: Will you continue to lead the business as CEO when the deal is finalized?

Yes! This is an exciting opportunity to continue the growth journey of Quorn.

FNU:  Does Monde Nissin see strong potential for Quorn in the US?  

Our own plan had a strong focus on Europe and the USA which Monde Nissin shares. ​[But in addition], they obviously have capability in Asia, which brings an additional growth opportunity to us.

FNU:  In the US, non-dairy beverages (almond, coconut, hemp, etc) are growing at 30-40% YoY and now account for almost 10% of the overall fluid milk and plant-based beverage category.  Can the meat-alternative market realistically emulate this?

Yes. The challenge is the market is still perceived as old fashioned soya burgers, which puts off many flexitarians. As consumers gain awareness of the wider range and superior products on offer, however, this will change.

FNU: How would you characterize the interest in meat alternatives from investors?  

I think there is growing recognition of the category potential. More investment in it has to be good for its growth.

FNU: How much of your revenue is generated in North America?

We do not provide ​[geographical] breakdowns but the US is our biggest international market (the UK is our home market).

One of the leading consumer packaged foods companies in the Philippines, insnat noodles giant Monde Nissin is owned by Betty Ang, the Philippines' 19th richest person according to Forbes, and is planning an IPO as early as 2016, according to Reuters. Earlier this year, it bought Australia's Black Swan, a brand of chilled dips, and Nudie, which sells premium juices.

FNU: What are your total company revenue forecasts for 2015?


FNU: Is the US business growing?

In market growth in the US is about 30%, a combination of distribution and velocity. There is a strong recognition that our breadth of range and superiority of offer mean we bring something new and different to the market.

FNU - In the US we’re seeing more companies talk about ‘plant-based’ foods rather than meat or dairy ‘alternatives’. Can you tap into this trend given that Quorn is not a plant?

We are fungi and research shows the idea of fermenting fungi is very positive as healthier and more sustainable.

Quorn usa products strip

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