Conquering Europe with mycoprotein
Quorn Foods uses the sustainable ingredient mycoprotein to produce meat substitutes. Quorn is a well-known brand in the UK, but it needs more brand awareness in the rest of Europe. A good reason for the company to join Foodvalley. “Together with other Foodvalley members, we want to develop more great plant-based products and join forces in the area of technology, but also in sales and marketing.”
Rob Steur is the Business Development Director Europe. “In the sixties there was a food shortage in the UK. That is when Marlow Foods, Quorn’s parent company, started researching alternative proteins. The first products hit the market in the eighties, and that makes Quorn one of the first meat substitutes. The company has grown substantially since then, and right now employs around 400 people. Still, the fame of our products is mainly limited to the UK. This is why we decided in early 2020 to adopt a more local approach. We want to develop products for the European market on the continent itself, not in the UK. And what better place to do so than in the Wageningen region? Now, we have our own hub in the ‘Vegan Valley’.”
Nutritious fungus with a small footprint
All Quorn products are based on mycoprotein, a high-quality protein source that is rich in fibres, low in saturated fats and contains zero cholesterol. Mycoprotein is harvested from a natural, nutritious fungus that grows on soil: Fusarium venenatum. A fermentation process turns it into mycoprotein. It has a very small footprint, as mycoprotein is self-sufficient and does not damage the environment. Compared to some animal protein sources, it uses up to 90 per cent less arable land and water.
Enjoying meat-free and healthy meals
“Mycoprotein is a great ingredient; you can use it to prepare very tasty dishes. It fits well in a completely plant-based diet, but is also suited for people who want to have a meat-free day. We already develop and produce a wide range of products. We’d like to share this technical knowledge and experience within the Foodvalley network. The same goes for sales and marketing: how can we, together, get more people to enjoy meat-free and healthy meals? We also hope to find partners with whom we can develop new products for the European market”, says Product Development Manager Natasja Lemmens-Smink.
Alternative protein sources
Natasja continues: “There’s only one drawback to mycoprotein: it’s difficult to produce in large volumes. Building a fermenter requires heavy investments. That’s why we keep an eye out for alternative protein sources. Our starting point is that such a source must be people and planet proof. And it’s questionable whether that’s the case for soya, for instance. Besides, soya is an allergen, another reason for us to look for other alternatives. And that search is all the more reason to join up with other Foodvalley members.”
Product Development Manager