Quorn Bets On U.S. Vegan Chicken Market With New Dallas R&D Centre

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Quorn, the British legacy meat-free brand, has announced the opening of its new culinary facility in Dallas. The move is part of the firm’s expansion plan into the U.S. market, as its Manila-based parent company Monde Nissin shifts the brand’s focus to compete in the fast-growing North American vegan chicken sector. 

Legacy vegetarian and vegan brand Quorn has just opened up a new culinary development centre in Dallas. The new R&D hub will feature new equipment, restaurant modelling from QSR to fine-dining, and a new product development lab to fast-track new innovations for the North American market. It will also house new equipment for a revamped coating on mycoprotein, Quorn’s star protein ingredient made from fungi. 

American expansion

Quorn’s new U.S. executive chef Stephen Kalil at the Dallas R&D facility.

The latest move is part of Quorn’s bet on the booming U.S. plant-based market. The firm, which was acquired by Monde Nissin in 2015, will see its North American business headed by Judd Zusel, who will act as president, and executive chef Stephen A. Kalil, who has formerly worked with CPG giants like PepsiCo and Frito Lay as well as restaurant chain The Cheesecake Factory.

Earlier this year in its Philippine IPO debut that raised over $1 billion, marking the biggest public offering in the country to date, Monde Nissin made clear its intentions to capitalise on the fast-growing U.S. plant-based market. 

At the time, the firm said it would be spending $335 million to grow its presence in the country, primarily through its Quorn brand and sister label Cauldron, which makes tofu and other soy-based meatless products. 

Quorn wants to become a leading global player in the meatless chicken market.

“I’m excited to join Quorn at a time when the meat alternative category is really taking off,” shared Zusel. “With Chef Stephen at the helm, we are poised to deliver new and exciting meatless chicken innovations creating a significant competitive advantage for Quorn and our retail partners.” 

Betting on plant-based chicken

Quorn’s primary focus for its American expansion is positioning itself as a “category leader in chicken alternatives”. Its existing range of meatless chicken products includes pieces, nuggets, bites and burger formats—some of them 100% vegan, and some only suitable for vegetarians as they contain egg whites. 

While the entire U.S. plant-based retail category has grown rapidly—topping US$7 billion in 2020 for the first time—more brands are now getting competitive with chicken analogues. Food tech stalwarts Beyond Meat and Impossible Foods have both entered the “vegan chicken wars”, the former launching its Beyond Chicken Tenders at 400 restaurants in July, and Impossible to roll out nuggets soon.

Quorn’s North America president Judd Zusel (L) and executive chef Stephen Kalil at the culinary centre’s opening.

Long-time players in the food industry have also hopped on board, the latest being Publix’ private label Greenwise, joining other brands with similar vegan chicken offerings like Tyson-owned Raised & Rooted, Cargill’s PlantEver, Conagra subsidiary Gardein and Maple Leaf Foods’ Lightlife brand. 

Quorn’s CEO Marco Bertacca believes that the opening of its new R&D facility will propel the brand to the forefront of the competition—not just in the U.S. but in other international markets too. So far, the brand is available in 18 countries globally, mainly in Europe, but also in Australia and Singapore. 

“Our ambition is to become the king of alternative chicken globally,” said Bertacca. “With new leadership, our state-of-the-art culinary center and new innovations accelerated by this IPO, we believe we’re well-positioned to do just that.”


All images courtesy of Quorn.


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