Julian Cooke Quorn

Martyn Fisher talks to Julian Cooke about the healthy-eating consumers cutting back on meat.

How has Quorn helped wholesalers grow sales in the past 12 months?

We’ve strengthened our wholesale team with several key appointments, enabling us to work more closely with our wholesale partners to capitalise on growing shopper demand for nutritionally-healthy, sustainable products such as Quorn.

We’ve also launched a range of frozen pricemarked packs for the convenience channel, each providing strong shared margin and competitive retail selling prices. These include our core mince and pieces products, and family favourites such as burgers and sausages.
This enables independent retailers and retail club members to stock Quorn products at a price shoppers will trust.

What is the greatest challenge that the wholesale industry currently faces?

The uncertainty surrounding the outcome of the Brexit negotiations is weighing heavily on all trade channels, including wholesale. Allied to the inflationary pressures that have been driving prices higher, this is creating a challenging trading environment for suppliers, their wholesale customers and shopkeepers. However, Quorn is produced in the UK and it will continue to grow, regardless of whatever Brexit deal is reached, so we’re really optimistic about the future.`

With the meat-free category growing faster than any other major category – up 12% in frozen and up 14% year-on-year in chilled – Quorn can offer the reassurance of profitable growth in a challenging broader marketplace.

What trends and opportunities are emerging that customers can take advantage of?

We’re highlighting to wholesalers that this growth is not a passing trend – it’s a conscious decision by consumers to cut their consumption of meat and opt for foods, including protein sources, that are better for them and the planet. More and more consumers are making an occasional switch: 80% of category shoppers are not vegetarian, for example.
Quorn is suited to meet the needs of a growing consumer base switching to alternative sources of protein for health or environmental reasons. It is therefore a must-stock product for wholesalers.

What challenges has Quorn overcome in the past year?

Primarily, the fact that our growth has been outstripping our budget plans, meaning we’ve had to be very fleet of foot with our supply chain to keep up with the demands of retailers and shoppers.

What’s been Quorn’s greatest achievement over the past year?

We’re proud of the fact that Quorn is meeting consumers’ growing demand for healthy, sustainable protein. This is reflected in our numbers: our retail sales value cash growth in the past year has been £18.7m, which is better than that of 35 of the top 40 UK FMCG brands.

What advice would you give wholesalers looking to grow sales in chilled and frozen?

We’re urging wholesalers to invest in more temperature-controlled space in-depot. As many convenience retailers recognise the growth potential of chilled and frozen products, and invest heavily in more space, the space and range offered in-depot will need to match it.

What would you like to see happening in wholesale in the next 12 months?

We hope wholesalers and their retail club members really focus on the exciting growth opportunities that the chilled and frozen meat-free categories offer. As c-stores continue to increase their chilled and frozen offering, they’ll be looking to their wholesalers to provide the choice that shoppers now expect to see in-store.

Are you planning any activity that wholesalers should be aware of?

Our commitment to future growth is highlighted by our recent £150m investment in our Billingham production site, making it the world’s largest production facility of its kind. We’re also unveiling the latest phase of this year’s £10m marketing investment in Quorn with a £2.5m media spend this month, targeting the family meal occasion.


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