If you look in the frozen or chilled sections of supermarkets for plant-based products, you’re almost spoilt for choice these days. When it comes to the ambient aisle, however, the pickings are relatively slim – particularly when it comes to meat alternatives.
To fill the gap, US brand Loma Linda brought its tuna alternative and pouch-style ready meals to the UK at the start of the year. Now, Quorn is busting out of its usual arenas with its first-ever ambient range.
Its new food cupboard offering delivers eight products across three formats: grains, bowls and strips.
Three new 200g Quorn Wonder Grains (RRP £2.19) are designed for a cold lunch and come in Thai, Mediterranean or Mexican three bean flavours. They are complemented by the 300g bowls (£2.49) in options like chilli bean, biriyani, and spiced chickpea and lentil, which are ready to eat but can also be heated up.
Quorn strips (£2.99) appear in two variations, spicy tikka or smoky fajita, which are recommended for cold salads or in stir-fries.
Each product has a shelf life of around 12 months and features freeze-dried pieces of Quorn’s chicken and mince vegetarian alternatives.
Landing in Tesco and Asda from June, Quorn is predicting the range will generate £10m sales in the first year.
“With chilled meat-free the number-one growth category in retail, and frozen meat-free at number three, we’re enabling retailers to introduce new and innovative meat-free options to their food cupboard offering, whilst making it easier than ever for consumers to enjoy more great-tasting meat-free meal solutions,” said Alex Glen, marketing director at Quorn Foods.
Making it easy
YouGov data from December showed that 52% of UK consumers are reducing their meat consumption, noted Glen, but he said more products were needed to provide customers with a convenient solution.
“To meet highest ever levels of demand, meat-free options need to be more readily available, to enable people to eat healthy protein for a healthy planet,” he said.
“Today’s meat-free category is largely centred around planned shopping and evening meals at home, but today’s time-poor consumers want easy food solutions, whatever the occasion. As more meals are eaten on-the-go, our new food cupboard range will enable consumers to introduce meat-free to an even broader range of key meal occasions.”
The new range will be backed by national TV advertising, focusing on the ‘hero’ product: the Thai Style Wonder Grains SKU. This will be supplemented by digital, social and in-store marketing.
It’s been a productive year for Quorn so far. Earlier this year, the company unveiled its vegan fishless fillets and meat-imitating Ultimate Burger. The vegan quarter pounders are infused with beetroot juice to create a “succulent” meaty texture and started out in Tesco this April, though they will also be stocked in Asda and Sainsbury’s from June.
So how does Sparkie expect this category to catch up?
The products are definitely expected. Retail has fully embraced the trends for plant-based food now.
Quorn tends to lead the way with this kind of thing, but then someone else will come along quickly behind them and do it better. They are great continuous innovators, but are limited by their product. They thrived when they were the only option, but now there are many.
Retail will likely fill out this range with a wide range of products, saturate the market and then move into flexitarian.