Quorn’s mission to revolutionise meat-free meals

Date : 01 July 2021

Hannah Pearse

Head of Nutrition and Scientific Affairs

We need to change the way we eat to improve both our health and the health of the planet. Reducing meat is a must - but for many the prospect of eating less can feel like a major loss.

Quorn has set out to make change easy and sustained, I explore how.  

Quorn has long been used as a meat alternative as it's high in protein, low in saturated fat and high in fibre. It's also environmentally friendly, with a carbon footprint of 90% less than beef1.

What is the challenge?

To achieve a healthier and more sustainable diet we need to be eating more plant-based foods, less meat and less foods high in fat, salt and sugar. Despite over half (57%) of shoppers2 already changing their diets or considering making changes to be healthier and more sustainable, for many this does not result in action.

Currently 91% of the UK population eat meat and there are many reasons why they do3.

  1. It is seen as a core element of the daily diet.
  2. It satisfies emotional needs.
  3. It satisfies physical needs.

To overcome the potential loss aversion of reducing or removing meat, Quorn has developed products that are clearly identifiable as alternatives to meaty favourites, such as sausages, burgers, ‘chicken’ pieces or mince. All products can be consumed in the same way as their meat equivalents, and in many cases are easier to prepare, saving consumers both time in the kitchen, and money with reduced food waste. This makes them easy to use, but with some being skeptical about taste and value for money, how does Quorn get shoppers to try its products for the first time, and then continue to pop them into their shopping baskets?

Quorn fajitas
Image source: Quorn

How Quorn is helping shift consumers towards healthier and sustainable diets

five behavioural levers model
Image: IGD’s Appetite for Change research identified a series of practical actions to help drive behaviour change

Quorn has extensive examples of utilising behavioural levers to drive sales. Here are just a few examples, but which are the most successful?

Signposting

For those looking for supporting reasons to buy Quorn, on-pack claims signpost both the health and environmental credentials. Our research shows that health is a greater driver than the environment3, therefore this information is prominent on front of pack, whilst carbon labelling is on the back.

Quorn packaging
Image source: IGD research

Our research also highlights that for many, overtly labelling products as vegetarian and vegan can be off-putting for some - as they are deemed ‘not relevant’3. This is reflected in Quorn’s subtle meat-free labelling.

Placement

Our research showed that 57% of people3 agreed that ranging meat-free products in the meat aisle would encourage uptake.

In some supermarkets, placing Quorn within the meat aisle, normalises these products and encourages uptake by those who may not have actively been seeking them out.

Studies have also shown that placing vegetarian items in a separate box on menus can reduce ordering rates by 56%4 and that having “veggie only” refrigerators in Pret, reduced sales compared to integrating products5.

Product

The familiar format, taste and names of Quorn products make it easy for people to relate to them and substitute them within their daily menus.

To counter any loss aversion, Quorn champions the taste credentials, with appetising images and recipe suggestion. It invests in a large team of home economists and innovation chefs, to ensure tase is not compromised.

Quorn chilli
Image source: Quorn

Influence

Multiple sporting celebrities have marketed Quorn. These personalities not only amplify Quorn’s health attributes, but also, it’s taste credentials. Celebrity endorsers include, Ryan Giggs, Will Carling, Sally Gunnell, Mo Farah and more recently Liverpool Football Club and the Forest Green Rovers.

Liverpool FC players cooking with Quorn
Image source: Quorn ‘Reds team up with Quorn on food sustainability’, 2020

Quorn recognises the important role that Healthcare Professionals such as Dietitians and Registered Nutritionists play in influencing consumers diets for the better with the launch of its healthcare professional engagement programme in April 2020. In line with the British Dietetic Association’s (BDA) leading One Blue Dot toolkit, Quorn’s recent Sustainable Eats campaign in partnership with the BDA and Carbon Cloud set out to encourage people to reduce their meat intake either partly (with their 50:50 options) or fully (with their veggie rebel recipes) and see the health and environmental benefits of doing so. This non-judgmental approach, paired with engaging and easy to understand assets, all underpinned by rigorous nutritional and environmental research is a great example.

And more recently its advert ‘Helping The Planet One Bite At A Time’6 aims to challenge perceptions around meat alternatives by taking a light-hearted look at dedicated carnivores adopting a flexitarian diet.

Incentivisation

Whereas some more niche and less established brands, may appear expensive compared to their meat equivalents. Quorn has established a competitive price point, regular promotions and a variety of pack sizes for both individual and family use.

Why is it so successful?

Quorn was first marketed back in the 80s, and now its products are widely listed in major retailers in the UK, Europe and the US as well as in major restaurants such as KFC and Pizza Express and even forms the main ingredient of the infamous Gregg’s Vegan sausage roll. Quorn is now sold globally and has served over 8 billion meals since launch. On top of this, Quorn recently announced a bold new ambition to be a net-positive business and serve 8 billion meals a year worldwide by 2030 – one for every person on the planet.

Quorn’s success can be attributed to the genuine need for solutions to reduce meat and its associated environmental impact. Quorn has also been able to evidence clear health benefits, taste attributes and as we have seen- demonstrated great innovation to make adoption easy for the consumer.

How can you apply these learnings?

Quorn is a great example as to how a brand has successfully pulled on multiple behavioural levers, which we can all learn from.

Tess Kelly, Sustainable Development Manager at Quorn said: “Change is exciting, and brings new experiences and opportunities into our lives. Change is also absolutely essential for us to meet the global challenges we face. However change can also be hard and sometimes a little daunting - especially when it comes to our food choices and dietary habits - which is why food companies who help change to happen in a positive way can really make the difference on a much larger scale across society by becoming experts in the science of behaviour. Quorn Foods has a legacy of standing for positive change in the way we produce food and how we consume it, and we are proud to continue to be a leading part of the movement for healthier and more sustainable diets through the research we invest in, the partnerships we build, and of course the delicious products we make.”

Quorn’s top tips:

  1. Simplicity is key – whether it’s having those quick grab-and-go options on the high street, or ingredients which cook and deliver on taste in a familiar way to fit those family favourites, making swaps simple for every occasion will make them seem much more attractive to your customer.
  2. Be memorable – it’s a crowded market out there so whatever makes you unique, own it. Ensure your brand and products can be found in as many places as possible, and use humour and storytelling to help your key messages stick and help people to identify with you.
  3. Make quality friends – change should come as part of a wider movement, so get good at collaborating with credible organisations and individuals who share your vision, are experts in their area, and can inspire others who you might not normally attract to your brand or products by yourself.

References

1 Quorn Sustainable Development report, 2019 

IGD, Appetite for Change Covid-19 update, September 2020

3 IGD, Appetite for Change, March 2020

4 Bacon, L. Don’t Put Vegetables in the Corner. World Resources Institute, 2017

Schlee, C. (2017)

Quorn advert on YouTube (accessed June 2021) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DkI9M4F4P2w