The scandal, which undermined consumer trust in the UK’s meat supply chain, raised Quorn’s profile with retailers and helped it to gain momentum with consumers, said Kevin Brennan, Quorn chief executive.
“Quorn has gone on more people’s radars now,” he said. “[Horsegate] made people concerned about where their meat comes from and what’s in meat products.”
As well as questioning where their food comes from, it also led them to question how much meat they were eating, he added.
Despite not knowing much about the origins of Quorn, consumers felt they could trust the product, said Brennan.
Quorn is made using mycoprotein, which is a type of fungus known as Fusarium venenatum. “It’s fermented, which is a natural process,” said Brennan. “It’s what you do to get products like yogurt and beer.”
Brennan added: “I think people are less worried about what goes into meat alternatives and far more worried about where certain animal products come from; how they were reared and looked after; and which part of the animal they are eating.”
Consumer concerns about the horsemeat contamination incidents led the UK government and European Commission to look for ways of preventing a recurrence of this type of fraud.
In the UK, it led to Professor Chris Elliott’s review, commissioned by the government, which recommended the establishment of a new Food Crime Unit (FCU) within the Food Standards Agency (FSA).
The new FCU was expected to be operational by the end of last month, a FSA spokeswoman said.
Read more about how Brennan plans to turn Quorn into a $1bn global brand here.