Hain Celestial is set to start a marketing campaign for its Linda McCartney vegetarian range in the UK, a push that includes the brand’s return to the country’s TV screens.
The company has lined up a series of initiatives for the meat-free brand, which it acquired from Heinz in 2006 and now generates around GBP17m (US$27.5m) in retail sales.
Through an on-pack and digital campaign, Hain plans to ask consumers to submit vegetarian recipes into a competition for a dish to become part of the Linda McCartney range.
Jon Smythe, commercial director for Hain’s business in the UK, said a shortlist of the best recipes will be selected by the company and a panel of judges. From that shortlist, the top three will be advertised on TV during the spring and the winner will be decided by a public vote.
Speaking to just-food, Smythe said that, through innovation and increased listings with UK retailers, the Linda McCartney brand had “doubled its market share in the last couple of years”. The brand, he said, now accounts for around 11% of the UK frozen vegetarian category.
He brushed off suggestions that the campaign was a way to boost Hain’s internal innovation plans and said the company was “constantly coming up with our own ideas”, pointing to the recent launch of mozzarella burgers and ready-meal ranges.
“A good brand always listens to its consumers and who better to ask than the people who eat our products day in and day out,” Smythe said.
Premier Foods plc’s Quorn brand is market leader and, in recent weeks, there has been much speculation about the product’s future. Last month, Premier admitted it had received “approaches” for its meat-free business, including Quorn and the Cauldron brand.
Smythe said Hain was “watching the situation with Quorn with interest” but refused to be drawn on whether the company would bid for the business. “That’s a question you would have to ask [Hain Celestial CEO] Irwin Simon.”