Cheaper products hit Quorns US sales in 2013, Brennan admitted

Cheaper products hit Quorn's US sales in 2013, Brennan admitted

Quorn Foods, the UK-based meat-free products manufacturer, has opened an office in Chicago in a bid to revitalise sales in the US, its largest overseas market.

The company saw its sales across the Atlantic fall in 2013 after the launch of cheaper products into the frozen segment of the meat-free category.

"ConAgra Foods launched a very low-cost, very poor quality product, which didn't help the category, called Lightlife. It was already in chilled but they brought it to the frozen sector. It was almost $2 cheaper than our product. Then a chunk of private label came in and it just made our pricing too high. We've just been going through a price reset to fix that and it takes time," Quorn CEO Kevin Brennan said.

In September, ConAgra sold the Lightlife business to US private-equity group Brynwood Partners for an undisclosed sum.

Brennan said Quorn had had a "tough" 2012 in the US and had decided to open a local office to build its business in a market he believes still has "great growth potential".

Speaking to just-food at Quorn's HQ in north-east England, Brennan said Quorn's US business received a boost in December when Wal-Mart increased the brand's listings.

The Quorn chief also said the brand's "non-GMO status" could also be an "opportunity" in the US for the business.

Click here to read the full just-food interview with Quorn Foods CEO Kevin Brennan, in which he discusses:

- How Quorn benefited from the horsemeat contamination saga last year

- Why he wants Quorn to start to emphasise sustainability credentials

- Trading conditions in the UK

- Quorn's international performance and ambitions