Jennifer Shepherd is UK Brand Manager at Quorn, responsible for one of the fastest growing brands in the frozen food category. Jennifer spoke to Wholesale Manager.
How long have you been in your present job?
What were you doing before that?
I started my career in PR agencies in the Northeast. I was then appointed Head of Marketing at Cruise and Van Mildert, Sports Direct’s premium clothing division, before moving to FMCG as UK Brand Manager at Quorn.
What does your job involve?
My role encompasses delivering everything the consumer sees of the brand, including PR, digital content and management of key partnerships such as the Craft Guild of Chefs, Netmums and the Lawn Tennis Association. I’m also involved in packaging and overseeing brand designs.
How would you sum up your brand’s history?
Quorn has a rich history dating back to 1985 when Rank Hovis McDougall set out to find a more sustainable protein source. Sustainability is at the heart of our business. By not using animal livestock, we make products that are not only healthier but kinder environmentally. We think this is a great way for everyone to eat their favourite meals and reflects our approach to sustainable nutrition. Quorn is the first meat free brand in the world to be Carbon Trust accredited.
What are your latest innovations to the range?
We have an active NPD programme, evidenced by the recent launch of our first ever vegan range. The UK vegan population is growing and with more mainstream consumers reducing their meat consumption, the appetite for more vegan products is accelerating. We are well placed to meet this demand.
Any more NPD in the pipeline?
We’ve recently invested £7m in a state-ofthe- art, global innovation centre, which will strengthen our innovation and technological capability, particularly NPD. We’ll also continue to invest in our vegan range, and ensure we create great-tasting products which the 47% of consumers reducing their meat consumption will love.
This year we’ve developed some great products, including around the world ready meals, such as Moroccan Tagine and Creamy Laksa Curry, Vegan Cracking Cranberry Balls and Kicking Cajun Fillets. We have also revamped our core chilled ready meals and are re-launching them with delicious new recipes.
What are your marketing plans for the brand this year?
We’re investing a record £14 million in brand support this year, including upweighted spend around the back to school occasion. Ultimately, we want to inspire people to reduce the meat they eat by using Quorn – we help make meat free meals easy and delicious.
Our marketing support is paying dividends. Quorn is now a £186 million brand, with almost 100 million packs bought last year, and the fastest-growing brand in the UK’s top 50.
We’re also benefiting from the move towards vegetarianism and flexitarianism. This is a generational shift, not a fad, so we expect the trend to continue for decades to come. Choosing to eat Quorn is about more than choosing great-tasting food; it’s about caring for you and your family’s health – and the planet’s future wellbeing.
How are you helping your wholesale customers grow their business?
We’re generating record awareness and demand in the convenience retail channel, which draws stock from the cash and carry/wholesale trade. We’ve also developed a core range of pricemarked frozen products exclusively for the convenience channel.
How can wholesalers maximise sales from your brand?
We’re delighted with how wholesalers are working with us to meet growing retailer demand. However, there is scope to increase Quorn products’ visibility and availability in many depots, which will help accelerate growth of the UK’s No. 1 meat free brand.
Where do you see the brand in five years’ time?
As the world changes and realises we can’t continue to consume this amount of meat, we’ll see a shift in the way other protein options like Quorn, are viewed. As a more sustainable protein (Quorn mince emits 90% less greenhouse gas emissions, uses 90% less land and 90% less water than beef mince*1), Quorn can help the public make more positive choices for their health and the planet’s health. By 2023, meals incorporating Quorn will become even more mainstream nationwide, providing a healthier protein choice in schools, bars, hospitals, restaurants and dinner tables.
* Statistics based on Quorn Mince vs. Beef Mince, accredited by the Carbon Trust