Quorn Deli Opening Shot

Quorn Deli

Quorn parent Marlow Foods has plunged into the red as soaring costs, falling demand for plant-based in supermarkets and one-off redundancy charges hit the Monde Nissin-owned group.

The group also wrote down the value of its £17.7m investment in the US to zero to reflect the challenges in the meat alternatives market in the country, according to newly filed accounts.

Revenues in the year ended 31 December 2022 were propped up by the foodservice and fast food divisions as sales in retail fell 4.3% to £192.9m.

A 43.7% jump in foodservice to £28.3m and growth of 81.1% to £6.7m in fast food helped the overall top line increase 1.3% to £227.9m.

Marlow Foods, which also owns Cauldron, said the end of lockdowns was partly responsible for the pressure in supermarkets, with retail sales rising in the second half.

Despite overall revenue growth, the group sank to a £12.9m operating loss, compared with a profit of £8.7m in 2021, as inflation squeezed margins and it was hit with exceptional costs of £12.1m following a full business review and redundancies at the Billingham site.

Finance costs of £4.5m, stemming from interest on borrowings, pushed the group to a pre-tax loss of £15.5m, from profits of £7.4m.

Quorn CEO Marco Bertacca said the inflationary pressure in the wake of the Ukraine war had “a significant impact” on the business.

“2022 was a year where we saw huge changes in consumer behaviour and turbulence in the global economy, but we were pleased to deliver sales growth and to consolidate our leadership in UK retail,” he added.

“We always seek to insulate our consumers from the impact of higher costs and to protect the affordability of our food where possible, but these dynamics pushed our business into a loss for the year.”

Marlow grew its retail market share by 1.5% to 31.7% in the year as it added more than 21,000 additional distribution points.

However, the latest category report in The Grocer showed Quorn and Cauldron remained under pressure as volumes plunged 10.9% at the former and 22.6% in the latter in the 52 weeks to 15 July 2023 [Nielsen IQ].