Meatless protein brand Quorn is hopping across the pond to bring its iconic plant-based product further into the US market. The United Kingdom-based company just announced it will open a culinary development center in Dallas, Texas, to primarily focus on its vegan chicken sector. Quorn intends to enhance its vegan chicken products with the new stateside facility, working to test the mycoprotein – the company’s signature fermented protein – in a variety of culinary conditions.

“Our ambition is to become the king of alternative chicken globally,” Quorn CEO Marco Bertacca said. “With new leadership, our state-of-the-art culinary center, and new innovations accelerated by [our] IPO, we believe we’re well-positioned to do just that.”

The culinary development center will test and enhance the company’s production equipment and methodology, but more importantly, the facility will serve to put its alternative chicken products to the test in real-time kitchen environments. The facility will be set up to test the plant-based protein in restaurant environments including everything from quick-service restaurants and fine dining. Quorn aims to facilitate a space that will bring innovation directly to the North American market.

The plant-based company’s expansion follows internal growth, recently adding two new executives including the inaugural US President Judd Zusel and Executive Chef Stephen A. Kalil. The two new executives will be situated at the helm of the new US facility, pushing the production of Quorn products stateside into the future. Kalil joins the Quorn team following years of accompaniment culinary experience, performing as a strategic leader for culinary development for many years. Zusel left Bacardi Global Brands to join the Quorn team, claiming to be enthusiastic and optimistic regarding the company’s growth.

“I’m excited to join Quorn at a time when the meat alternative category is really taking off,” Zusel said. “With Chef Stephen at the helm, we are poised to deliver new and exciting meatless chicken innovations creating a significant competitive advantage for Quorn and our retail partners.”

Quorn’s growth is moving at monumental speed as its plant-based product continue to become more popular worldwide. In June, the company’s parent company Monde Nissin Corp.–a Philippines-based company best known for Asian noodles and snack brands–entered the Phillippines Stock Exchange with a $1 billion initial public offering. Following the highly successful market response, the parent company will delineate a portion of the funding towards Quorn’s US expansion and overall product innovation.

The company breaks ground in the United States as the plant-based market experiences its most competitive year yet. A Plant Based Food Association (PBFA) and Good Food Institute [GFI] study released last year found that plant-based retail sales reach $7 billion in the United States for the first time. Coinciding with the rise of vegan consumers, plant-based companies across the global market responded by releasing vegan chicken products. Alongside Quorn, companies such as Beyond Meat, Publix, Eggo, Impossible, and more have released innovative plant-based chicken products to meet the rising customer demand.

“The data tells us unequivocally that we are experiencing a fundamental shift as an ever-growing number of consumers are choosing foods that taste good and boost their health by incorporating plant-based foods into their diet,” Senior Director of Retail Partnerships of PBFA Julie Emmett said.

The UK brand will test its vegan chicken products to prepare for future partnerships with restaurants in the United States alongside its retail distribution. This move comes soon after Beyond Meat announced that it would partner with nearly 400 restaurants nationwide to distribute its plant-based chicken in a restaurant setting. The move signifies the plant-based chicken industry’s general movement from retail to food service operators.

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