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Last Updated: Monday, 7 August 2006, 10:02 GMT 11:02 UK
Meat-free products boost Premier
Quorn sausages
Nearly five million households bought a Quorn product in 2005
The nation's growing appetite for meat-free meals has helped Premier Foods cook up a 123% rise in profits.

The Branston pickle and Ambrosia cream rice owner made a pre-tax profit of 27.9m in the six months to 1 July.

Premier's Quorn and Cauldron range of meat-free products were the star performers, delivering double-digit sales growth.

Quorn is a meat substitute derived from an edible soil mould developed by chemicals giant ICI in the 1960s.

Premier bought the brand from Marlow Foods for 172m last year, when it also acquired the Cauldron range.

"We are delighted with the performance of Quorn, where the additional marketing investment we have put behind the brand has resulted in double-digit sales growth," said Premier Foods chief executive Robert Schofield.

The company invested heavily in a marketing campaign to coincide with its new range of Branston baked beans last Autumn, and said it had managed to maintain a 10% share of the market.

Last month, Premier said it had agreed to buy the UK and Irish operations of the Campbell Soup Company for 460m, which will add Oxo stock cubes, Batchelor soups and Homepride flour to its rosta of brands.

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