Exponent Private Equity's £205m swoop on Premier Foods' Quorn will free the brand from its shackles and allow it flourish again, say experts.

The deal, which was agreed this week and includes meat-free range Cauldron, was a win-win for both parties, said one source. Quorn had unexploited domestic and international potential, he said.

"Quorn technology has the potential to play an important role as an environmentally excellent and healthy source of protein for an ever-expanding global population."

Premier acquired Quorn from Marlow Foods for £172m in 2005. Its sale will ease the £1.4bn debt pile amassed by Premier through deals such as its £1.2bn acquisition of RHM, which has been blamed for crippling the business and leaving brands such as Quorn on the periphery.

"NPD has got to be very strong in this sector and they fell behind," said another source. "They came up against a lot of competition in the UK, particularly when Linda McCartney was pushed strongly."

Value sales in the meat-free category have slumped 3% to £220.9m [Kantar 52w/e 31 October]. Quorn sales are down 8% by value [IRI 52w/e 31 October 2010].