UK-based meat-free business Quorn Foods has said it plans to spend GBP40m (US$59.5m) over the next 12 months to further grow the company into what its CEO called "a US$1bn business".

Quorn, which has been at the centre of recent speculation over its future ownership, is looking to build on its growing sales, which in 2014 hit GBP150m.

CEO Kevin Brennan said: "Our GBP40m investment over the next 12 months is a real statement of intent, as we pursue our ambition to transform Quorn into a $1bn business, four to five times its current size. All of the 15 markets we directly export to are performing extremely well, with sales of Quorn likely to double in Germany, Finland and Denmark over the next 12 months, and plans to expand into at least one new international market in 2015 as we look to build on current momentum."

Quorn, owned by private-equity firm Exponent Private Equity , said it is in the middle of its "biggest-ever programme of new product creation". It is developing 30 products for domestic and international markets, including new gluten-free and vegan lines set for launch later this year.

Reports in the UK have claimed Exponent , which bought Quorn from Premier Foods plc in 2010, is preparing an auction of the business.

Click here for our analysis, published this week, of why Quorn could be an attractive takeover target.