It's a story that people would have found hard to believe just a few years ago, when Quorn – and indeed veganism – was still considered something of a punchline. But with rapidly swelling numbers of vegans, vegetarians, flexitarians and Veganuary participants, Quorn stocks have run seriously low in the UK.
As the name suggests, Veganuary is a programme whereby people sign up to be vegans for the month of January. This year, a record 400,000 people signed up, and lots of people participated without officially putting their names down too.
As a result, by the start of February, supermarkets were running low on Quorn products and their own vegan lines, including meat-free mince and chickenless nuggets.
Quorn recently opened a new factory, which has been making over a million vegan food products a week – but it wasn't enough. Global Marketing Operations Director Sam Blunt told the i newspaper:
"We saw unprecedented levels of demand. Other brands producing meat-free products have been experiencing the same, it's not just us.
Veganuary had record sign-ups, and not everyone who does it registers. We think we had as many as four million customers in January. We don't know how many will stay.
It was disappointing we couldn't meet demand but we're increasing production capacity and investing in new equipment. It's been our strategy for expand for two years, but it takes time."
As well as producing its own branded products, Quorn has been working with big food outlets including Greggs and KFC, which won't have helped with trying to keep up with demand – the Quorn-assisted KFC Zero Chicken burger has been very popular, as has Greggs' range of meat-free delicacies, including the steakless bake.
Whether the switch to veganism turns out to be a fad will largely depend on how easy it is to get tasty, filling vegan food from mainstream retailers, so here's hoping Quorn can get back on top of production now that Veganuary's over. [iNews]