Quorn Foods boss says global appetite for the meat substitute is driving growth

Quorn Foods, which has a factory in Methwold, has seen global sales rise by 19% since the start of t

Quorn Foods, which has a factory in Methwold, has seen global sales rise by 19% since the start of the year. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: Copyright: Archant 2015

The head of Quorn Foods has expressed confidence in a growing global appetite for the meat substitute as he revealed plans to invest £150m and create 300 jobs in the UK.

Chief executive Kevin Brennan believes increasing sales in the US, Australia and Asia – up 19% in the first half of the year – will keep the business on an even keel if trading conditions in the EU get tougher after Brexit.

The food producer, which has a factory in Methwold, could also cope with the introduction of a trade tariff with the 27-nation bloc as long as it is in line with the single-digit charges it faces when trading with other nations, Mr Brennan said.

The comments came as he pledged to create hundreds of jobs in the North of England over the next five years through an investment drive at its manufacturing operation in Teesside.

Speaking to the Press Association, Mr Brennan said hard Brexit tariffs 'wouldn't be the end of the world' for Quorn.

'We are running a company where we believe we can quadruple the business to one billion US dollars. Europe plays a part in that but it isn't essential to achieving that.

'The UK business is still a business with incredibly strong growth. The US is a business with enormous scale potential to us, alongside Australia and Asia.

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'We are still taking a positive view on commercial investment in Europe. We continue to invest significantly into Germany, Italy and the Nordics.

'But equally we know that our category is growing everywhere in the world that if Europe gets less attractive, we can divert our growth to other places,' he said.

Quorn, which sells meat-free alternatives to sausages, mince and burgers, saw UK sales grow 15% in the first half of the year.

European sales grew by 29%, US sales were up 40% and Asia and Australia sales climbed 35% respectively.

Mr Brennan said Quorn has bucked challenging market conditions and is achieving double-digit growth in most British retailers, adding 'most food companies would be happy if they had any growth at all in the UK'.

While the firm has managed to shield customers from Brexit-induced price hikes following sterling's collapse, he could not guarantee costs will not rise in future.

The company, which was bought by Philippine food giant Monde Nissin four years ago, employs 650 staff and is based in Stokesley, North Yorkshire.