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Plant-based diets are helping firms like Quorn to grow

PUBLISHED: 10:05 25 July 2017 | UPDATED: 10:05 25 July 2017

Embargoed to 0001 Monday July 24

File photo dated 09/02/15 of Quorn products, as the boss of Quorn Foods has backed the firm to ride out any Brexit disruption to its European business as he unveiled plans to create 300 jobs and invest £150 million in the UK. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday July 24, 2017. See PA story CITY Quorn. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

Embargoed to 0001 Monday July 24 File photo dated 09/02/15 of Quorn products, as the boss of Quorn Foods has backed the firm to ride out any Brexit disruption to its European business as he unveiled plans to create 300 jobs and invest £150 million in the UK. PRESS ASSOCIATION Photo. Issue date: Monday July 24, 2017. See PA story CITY Quorn. Photo credit should read: Nick Ansell/PA Wire

From flexitarians to fruitarians, fads for diets are turning in to big business for food manufacturers and restaurants.

Norwich Market. Cheryl Mullenger, left, and Michelle McCabe who run the Bia Kichen Vegan Diner. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY Norwich Market. Cheryl Mullenger, left, and Michelle McCabe who run the Bia Kichen Vegan Diner. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

With environmental, health and moral factors all playing their part 35% of people in Britain now identify as semi-vegetarian, according to a 2016 survey by consumer analyst Mintel.

Meat substitute maker Quorn Foods, which has a factory at Methwold, hailed a 15% UK sales rise yesterday and its chief executive Kevin Brennan put it down to an increasing number of flexitarians – people who are vegetarian for a few days a week.

Prof Paul Dobson, head of Norwich Business School at the University of East Anglia, said distinct branding along with more health and environmentally conscious consumers had helped Quorn thrive. He said: “A lot of young people are making a decision when they are young and then sticking with it. I would expect that as their incomes mature and they earn more money we will see more upmarket products. It will be important to add value to products and develop new ones.”

Suffolk-based Hodmedod, which was set up in 2012 to market British-grown pulses as a sustainable alternative source of protein, said it is witnessing strong growth in demand and now employs five people alongside the three founders.

Josiah Meldrum, one of the co-founders of the Halesworth firm, said: “We have seen a rapid growth in interest, not just from vegetarians and vegans but from people who are cutting down on meat for health or environmental reasons. We began as a project looking at what a more sustainable diet would look like and one of the conclusions was that it would include less meat and more vegetable protein.

“There does appear to be increasing awareness of the environmental impact of food production. Peas and beans can readily be grown here, and have been since the Iron Age. They had largely fallen out of favour but we are seeing a resurgence in interest.”

Cheryl Mullenger co-founded vegan diner Bia Kitchen with her partner Michelle McCabe three years ago and now the pair have opened The Tipsy Vegan in St Benedict’s Street, Norwich.

She said: “A lot of our customers are foodies rather than vegan or vegetarian – they are interested in trying something different.”

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