Shares in Premier Foods – which owns the likes of Hovis and Mr Kipling – shot up 15 per cent when it announced its intention to sell Quorn, as well as the Cauldron vegetarian range.
Experts believe multinational food companies such as Nestlé, Unilever, Danone and Campbell’s have made approaches to the company, underlining the extent to which meat-reducing diets have become mainstream in the past couple of years.
Part of efforts to reduce a debt of £1.4 billion, Premier said it had already received offers for the brands.
Premier bought Quorn from Marlow Foods for £172 million in 2005. Run separately from the rest of the group, it is now thought to be worth as much as £250 million.
Extracted from a fungus – Fusarium venenatum – grown in vats, Quorn was invented in 1985 and is the UK and Ireland’s leading brand of mycoprotein food product.