PEOPLE have been eating more vegetarian products in lockdown according to meat-free burger and sausage maker Quorn Foods, which is gearing up for its biggest Veganuary yet.

Veganuary, a combination of vegan and January, is an international campaign encouraging people to swap out meat and go vegan for a month.

Bosses at the meat replacement company, which has sites in Peterlee, County Durham, and Stokesley, North Yorkshire, have been working hard to feed the nation during Covid while protecting staff.

As well as meeting increased demand, Quorn has been preparing new product lines ahead of the new year when it expects a further surge in popularity.

Mark C Taylor, manufacturing director at Quorn Foods UK, puts demand for meat-free products down to an increase in environmental awareness, with vegan and vegetarian diets being more environmentally-friendly.

Mr Taylor said: "Consumer interest in meat-free and vegan diets has been gaining momentum for some time now, especially during the ongoing lockdown periods, and it is great to see this movement growing from strength to strength."

Data collected by Quorn during the pandemic reveals that 40 per cent of British people believe a diet lower in meat is better for the environment while 52 per cent say that a meat-free day a week is better for the planet.


According to the UN’s Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), meat and dairy specifically accounts for around 14.5 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions.

"As such, it is no surprise to see an increase in demand for vegetarian and vegan food," Mr Taylor added.

"People want to make a difference to the planet and food is an accessible way of doing so. Our sales at Quorn have reflected this. We are continuously striving to meet this demand and provide our customers with the option to reduce the amount of meat in their diet."

The Northern Echo: Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen visiting Quorn back in 2018Tees Valley Mayor Ben Houchen visiting Quorn back in 2018

Quorn, which employers around 600 people in the North-East and North Yorkshire, is launching a new product range called Quorn Makes Amazing, which is a set of vegan ingredients that celebrate how flavoursome everyday food can be.

The food company is also targetting "meat reducers" in its campaigns, hoping to appeal to meat-eaters looking to cut back consumption as well as people who are already plant-based.

Mr Taylor said: "Quorn Makes Amazing is packed with big bold flavours that create a point of difference in the category and provide meat reducers and aspirational meat reducers with tasty options, that can be used to create delicious meat-free dishes for any meal occasion.

"Everybody holds an individual responsibility to do their bit and help the planet. We are in a grave situation with global warming, and this is a battle that will require everyone’s help if we are to protect our future.

The Northern Echo: Quorn Pieces being sorted inside the factory. Picture: QUORNQuorn Pieces being sorted inside the factory. Picture: QUORN

"As a sustainable food brand, we are committed to providing people with the option to choose non-animal-based products if they wish to. We are not asking people to remove meat from their diet altogether if they don’t want to, but instead make small, occasional tweaks that can have major long-term benefits to the health of our planet and its people."

"It has undoubtedly been a tough year for everyone in the food manufacturing sector. However, at Quorn, we have kept the production lines running in the face of lockdown, shielding, isolating and increased levels of absence.

"So far, we have managed to hit all our production targets, but that is not to understate the fact this has been a huge challenge for each of our sites.

The Northern Echo: Inside Stokesley's Quorn Factory. Picture: QUORNInside Stokesley's Quorn Factory. Picture: QUORN

"It is a credit to our teams that we have managed to reach these targets, and we are proud of the work that has gone into overcoming a challenging set of circumstances."

Most factory workers at Quorn take on 12-hour shifts, with a day shift starting at 7am and finishing at 7pm and a night shift working the opposite hours.

The company says it has spent nearly £2 million on creating Covid-safe sites and ran internal campaigns to promote healthy lifestyles. 

Mr Taylor said: "It has also been paramount to ensure our workforce are not only healthy but happy, amidst uncertain and worrying times. Our workforce has excelled in their commitment and enthusiasm to keep things running.

The Northern Echo: Mark C Taylor, Manufacturing Director at Quorn Foods UK. Picture: QUORN

"We have also prioritised the support of our employees that are working from home and not having any face-to-face interaction with colleagues.

"One example is that we have run a virtual fitness competition between staff to promote an active lifestyle in the face of lockdown restrictions."

Given its "huge demand", Quorn factories run every day of the year with the work varying depending on which line and exactly where on the line a person is situated.

Mr Taylor added: "Producing great tasting products requires real skill and understanding and our factory colleagues have this in abundance."

Earlier this year, Quorn announced a £34.8 million investment to the upgrade of its fermenting capacity, which will also bring jobs to the region.

The Northern Echo: Inside Quorn's factory. Picture: QUORN

"The meat alternative sector continues to grow, at pace, and we plan on growing with it. We look forward to proceeding with this to accommodate increasing consumer demand," Mr Taylor said.

"We will be recruiting more people to help us achieve and deliver our 2030 ambition – to provide 8 billion servings of Quorn a year. That’ll be one serving for every person on the planet."

The Northern Echo: The Quorn site in BillinghamThe Quorn site in Billingham

At its main site in Stokesley, Quorn has "many" machines that are used to produce sausages, meatballs and other meat-free products, making up four production lines. The company plans to add another two over the coming years.

This site alone has a daily output of around 150 tons. 

The Northern Echo: Inside Quorn’s factory. Picture: QUORN

From here, products are shipped to its warehouse near Boroughbridge, Harrogate, to then be distributed.

Products are then packed at high speed, in a variety of packaging formats, and then sent to the offsite-warehouse. From the warehouse, it is sent to the supermarkets’ own warehouses.

From there, Quorn products hit supermarket shelves for you to purchase.