- Quorn’s mycoprotein is becoming available to food manufacturers as an ingredient for the first time. Monde Nissin-owned Marlow Foods, which created the fermented staple, is spinning off the new Marlow Ingredients division.
- The ingredient, derived from the fungus Fusarium venenatum, has been under development in the United Kingdom since the 1960s. It first entered the U.K. marketplace in 1985, and it is used in more than 100 Quorn-branded products worldwide.
- While sales of branded meat alternative products have recently been slipping, consumers and manufacturers are still interested in the sector for health and sustainability reasons. Making ingredients more widely available could boost revenue for brands in a difficult economic time.
While many big ingredients companies are working on alternative protein components that manufacturers can add to their products, Marlow Ingredients has a big advantage: A long track record of success. Quorn has been putting mycoprotein from Fusarium venentatum in food for nearly 40 years. As a result, there is a lot of information on what works and what doesn’t when using the protein.
Quorn’s mycoprotein is nutritious, containing a high amount of protein, all nine essential amino acids, fiber and several vitamins and minerals. It’s low in saturated fat. And it’s more sustainable than traditional animal protein, producing far less carbon and using a fraction of the land and water, according to a third-party report from the Carbon Trust.
Quorn also has sponsored studies of the nutritional value of its mycoprotein through the years. It has plentiful data to demonstrate the ingredient’s potential to help build muscle and improve gut health.
"There's huge potential for our mycoprotein," Marlow Foods CEO Marco Bertacca said in a statement. "Alongside the delicious meat like texture and incredible nutritional and sustainable benefits it's famous for, there's exciting research happening into its ability to create more sustainable versions of other applications, such as dairy alternatives. Marlow Ingredients is initially focussed on building partnerships with food manufacturers, but the potential for the future is very exciting."
This new division could also help Monde Nissin recoup some of its recent losses from Quorn. In its most recent quarter, the publicly traded Philippines-based company tallied a sales loss of 13 billion Philippine pesos ($231.1 million) in fiscal year 2022 due to impairment charges of 20.5 billion Philippine pesos ($364.5 million) for its meat alternatives.
In a press release discussing the earnings, Monde Nissin CEO Henry Soesanto said the impairment charge was a “frustrating setback” made necessary through margins reduced by inflation, “some reduction in sentiment toward the meat alternative category,” and costs associated with the renewed focus on Quorn in the U.S.
However, Soesanto said in the release, the company believes in the long-term growth potential for alternative proteins. The company is the world’s largest producer of mycoprotein — it currently has four large fermenters to produce mycoprotein in the U.K., according to Monde Nissin’s 2022 annual report. Soesanto said the company has seen consumers look more for quality in their alternative proteins, and sales in the U.K. have been on the upswing.
Marlow Ingredients will start its offerings in Europe and eventually spread worldwide, the company said.
As meat analogs made through fermentation begin to gain steam, an ingredient manufacturer in the mix could work with a variety of food companies to design products that replace a portion of animal protein with mycoprotein. The Better Meat Co. also works solely in the ingredients space. It has partnered with Maple Leaf Foods and Hormel Foods on developing products using its fermented Rhiza protein.
But Marlow’s partnerships may be a bit more constrained. After all, Monde Nissin is unlikely to want anything its ingredient division makes to be competition for its main Quorn brand.