Linda McCartney Foods

Linda McCartney Foods is a British food brand specializing in vegetarian and vegan food. Available in the UK, as well as Norway, Ireland, Australia, South Africa (Checkers) and New Zealand, the range includes chilled and frozen meat analogues in the form of burgers, sausages, sausage rolls, meatballs, stir-fry dishes and pastas.[1][2]

The company was created in 1991 by musician, photographer and activist Linda McCartney, and has been described as one of the most successful mass-market celebrity brands.[3]


Linda McCartney Foods was established in April 1991, launching a range of frozen vegetarian products including golden nuggets, ploughman's pie (cheese pie), ploughman's pasties, lasagna, Italian style toppers, and beefless burgers. The recipes were based on dehydrated textured vegetable protein (TVP).[4] Some of the sales proceeds were to go towards McCartney to further develop the range, and to fund her animal aid charity, Animal Line.

The packaging graphics were designed by Springett Associates, and featured Linda McCartney's portrait and signature, a black and white illustration by artist Jonathan Mercer, and the Vegetarian Society's seal of approval.[5][6] The ready meals were manufactured by frozen food company Ross Young's, and were the first to not feature either the Ross or the Young's name.[7] Springett did further work with Ross Young in 1995 to update the packaging with an emphasis on hand-written copy linked with the Linda McCartney persona.[8] In October 1996, United Biscuits' McVitie's worked with Springett to update the woodcut design from country scenery to kitchen images. The campaign theme of "Delicious recipes created in Linda's kitchen,"[9] reflected a changed focus from mass production, to imply a personalised brand from McCartney's kitchen.[10][11]

The Linda McCartney Foods brand was preceded by the bestseller success of McCartney's cookbook, Linda McCartney's Home Cooking, published in 1989. More than 40,000 copies were sold.[12] The tour chef for the McCartney's band used recipes from the cookbook for the exclusively-vegetarian catered tour, labelled "rock's first veggie tour",[13] in 1989.[14]

Further products were added in circa 1991/1992 including Spaghetti Bolognese-style, Deep country pies, cauliflower and broccoli potato gratin and vegetable wedges.[15] The Spaghetti Bolognese style was marketed as being the "...only meat analog version of the product" available on the market.[16]

The range was introduced across Europe[17] and America[18] in 1992. The 12-product range had an annual turnover of 12 million pounds in 1992.[19]

The products changed ingredients in circa August 1993, ceasing TVP and switching to wheat protein. This was marketed as providing a more meat-like taste than other meat analogue brands.[20] However in 1995, it was noted that the sausages (available internationally) were manufactured from TVP seasoned with parsley.[21]

The product range was expanded and improved in 1995, coinciding with the brand's television commercial and the opening of a dedicated factory in Fakenham. The new and updated options included beefless burgers, country-style Kievs, savoury burgers, crunchy garlic grills and vegetable cheese burgers.[22]

In October 1996 as part of United Biscuits' McVitie's Prepared Foods, the range was improved to reduce fat and sodium and increase protein levels. At relaunch, a total of 14 products were offered, which included pepperoni-style main meal pizza, and modified existing offerings included: creamy garlic kievs, cannelloni, Linda's original stew and dumplings, chilli non carne with mozzarella potato wedges, and farmhouse-style pies.[10][11][23]


Advertising contractsEdit

Ross Young'sEdit

Ross Young's had difficulty in advertising contracts for the range, as Butterfield Day Devito Hockney resigned their contract in 1991, and Lowe Howard-Spink resigned their subsequent contract after a six week period in August 1992.[24] The advertising contract was won by GGT in November 1992,[25] who then released their animated woodcut-print-inspired television campaign in April 1993.[26] Linda McCartney featured in the brand's television commercials in October 1993.[27] In May 1996, the brand commenced an advertising contract with agency Cowan Kemsley Taylor after a disagreement with GGT regarding advertising strategies.[28][29]

Fairmont FoodsEdit

In August 1993, Fairmont Foods entered a contract with advertising agency Zimmerman Group, but without a formal written agreement. Fairmont fired the agency on 28 February 1994. Fairmont filed a complaint in April 1994, and went to trial in August–September 1995 against Zimmerman, in a financial dispute. The claims, counterclaims and a third-party suit related to alleged overpayments, contract breaches and staff poaching.[30]


Pie recalls (1992)Edit

In October 1992, more than 700 pies were recalled as they contained meat. Ross Young's conducted an investigation into possible external tampering. While the Hull factory also produced Ross Young's steak and kidney pies, the products were never produced together.[19] McCartney's continued endorsement of the range was given on the condition of intensive investigations and Ross Young's guarantees.[31]

Burger recalls (1995–1996)Edit

In October 1995, the beefless burgers were recalled after containing more fat than advertised. This occurred after the Food Commission survey,[32] ITV's current affairs programme (The Big Story)[33] noted their 20 - 23 percent fat content through independent laboratory testing. This contrasted with the packaging's claim of 11.2 percent fat content. McCartney asked for the problem to be corrected[34] and thousands of packs were recalled. Ross Young stated that there was no health risk, and a spokesman stated that the products were marketed as "non-meat", not as a "low fat" food.[35] The fat content variation was found to be due to the type of vegetarian mince used in manufacturing.[36]

In 1996, Linda and Paul McCartney shipped one million soy veggie burgers to Sarajevo, to aid war recovery efforts in Bosnia. Linda provided the powdered "mercy meals",[37] inspired by the fundraising 20-track "The Help Album", recorded by Paul and other celebrities.[38] Three trucks were hired to transport 22 tonnes of dried veggie burger mix.[39][40] Spectator cook Jennifer Patterson joked that the donation could result in an unfortunate flatulent side effect.[41]

After the burgers had been sent, they were found to have a high fat content, and were planned to be recalled.[42]

Soya claimsEdit

In 1999, the BBC Two's Newsnight programme alleged that Linda McCartney products contained genetically modified soya, directly contradicting a statement by the company.[43]

International cycling sponsorshipEdit

The Team Linda McCartney (also known as The Linda McCartney Pro Cycling Team) was an all-vegetarian cycling team, founded in 1998 and primarily sponsored by the food chain.

The brand was promoted by cyclist Benjamin Brooks until 2000, when his contract was not continued.[44] The team competed in the 2001 Jacob's Creek Tour Down Under,[45] and rider David McKenzie won the 2001 final stage of the Tour Down Under in Adelaide.

After three years, Linda McCartney Foods withdrew sponsorship from the team but allowed them to continue using branding while seeking a new sponsor. In early 2001, founder Julian Clark announced the disbandment of the Linda McCartney Team after the budget shortfall and debts of one million pounds,[46] and the team parted ways with company OC Racing and Promotions.[47][48] The International Cycling Union made criminal complaints of fraud against the team, and Clark faced deception charges in Maidstone Crown Court in February 2001.[49]

Linda McCartney's Home Style Cooking brandEdit

In December 1993, McCartney announced a line of vegetarian frozen entrees to be released in America under the brand name Linda McCartney's Foods from the Heart. The range was made under and agreement with Fairmont Foods of Minnesota (FFM).[50][51] The range was launched in March 1994 as Linda McCartney's Home Style Cooking, and was the first American company with a completely meatless line of food products.[52] Products included boil-in bag entrees: Fetticini Alfredo, Pasta Provencale, Pasta Primavera, Rigatone Marinara, Bavarian Goulash, Spaghetti Milano and Chili Non-Carne; and preplated dishes: Lasagna Roma and Burrito Grande.[53][54]

In 1995, in addition to Pasta Primavera, Fettucini Alfredo, Lasagne Roma, Burrito Grande, other products were American Barbecue, Tex-Mex Tostada and Traditional Stew.[55]


The brand became part of United Biscuits' McVitie's Prepared Foods division in March 1996.

The company was sold in December 1999 to H.J. Heinz Co., who planned to sell the vegetarian food products worldwide. It was acquired as part of purchasing United Biscuits' frozen and chilled foods division.[56]

It was sold again in 2006 to the Hain Celestial Group.[57] The McCartney family remains involved in its development.[58]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "Our story", "Our food", Linda McCartney Foods, accessed 1 February 2011.
  2. ^ Katie Allen, "Linda McCartney food empire sold", The Guardian, 13 June 2006.
  3. ^ Jones, Helen (29 June 1995). "Management (marketing and advertising) - celebrity wares". Financial Times. p. 11.
  4. ^ "Ross Young's launches Linda McCartney range of frozen meatless meals". The Grocer. 11 May 1991. p. 43.
  5. ^ "People in the News". The Associated Press. 30 April 1991.
  6. ^ "Ross Young's launches new range of vegetarian dishes endorsed by Linda McCartney". Design Week. 3 May 1991. p. 5.
  7. ^ "Ross Young's to launch Linda MacCartney [sic] range of ready meals". Marketing: 6. 2 May 1991 – via Factiva.
  8. ^ "Supplement - Design effectiveness awards ; packaging - branded food and drink; commended". Marketing: 11. 12 October 1995 – via Factiva.
  9. ^ "New releases from Linda". The Grocer. 1 February 1997. p. 45.
  10. ^ a b "Mainstream battle for meat-free brands". The Grocer. 5 October 1996. p. 32.
  11. ^ a b "Linda McCartney moves into main meal pizzas". Brand Strategy. 25 October 1996. p. 1.
  12. ^ Stern, William M.; Hayes, John R. (20 June 1994). "Feeding the band". Forbes. 153 (13): 138 – via EBSCOHost.
  13. ^ Schaefer, Stephen (31 October 1990). "McCartney cookbook is anti-meat manifesto". USA Today. p. 02D.
  14. ^ Emerson, Bo (25 November 1989). "Vegetarian Meals Fuel McCartney Band, Crew". Atlanta Journal and Constitution. p. B/09.
  15. ^ "Ross Young's to add four new varieties to Linda McCartney's vegetarian brand". The Grocer. 9 November 1991. p. 46.
  16. ^ Saulnier, John M. (1 January 1992). "World class forzen food manufacturers shine brightly at ANUGA '91 exhibition (ANUGA World Food Market)". Quick Frozen Foods International. p. 106.
  17. ^ "Ross Young's to introduce Linda McCartney endorsed vegetarian meals during 1992". Marketing Week. 18 October 1991. p. 11.
  18. ^ "Briefly". USA Today. 1 November 1991. p. 02D.
  19. ^ a b "Ross Young's vegetarian pies 'laced with meat'". The Independent - London. 10 October 1992. p. 2.
  20. ^ Dwek, Robert (19 August 1993). "Revamp for McCartney's veggies". Marketing. p. 4.
  21. ^ "Linda McCartney sausages; mince; chunks". International Product Alert. 12 (12). 21 June 1995 – via Factiva.
  22. ^ "Ross Young extends Linda McCartney frozen meals range". The Grocer. 17 June 1995. p. 32.
  23. ^ "This week - stop press". Marketing. 10 October 1996. p. 4.
  24. ^ McMurdo, Lindsay (21 August 1992). "Lowe splits with Ross Yong's". Marketing Week. p. 10.
  25. ^ Plant, Fiona (4 December 1992). "GGT scores double with Sealink and Ross Young". Campaign. p. 5.
  26. ^ Plant, Fiona (8 April 1993). "GGT launches its first ads for Ross Young's". Campaign. p. 10.
  27. ^ "Linda McCartney back on screen promoting meat-free frozen foods". The Grocer. 9 October 1993. p. 48.
  28. ^ "Ads to boost Linda McCartney's vegetarian foods". Campaign's Daily News. 28 May 1996.
  29. ^ "Agencies - Digests". Marketing Week. 24 May 1996. p. 13.
  30. ^ "Fairmont Foods taking ad agency to court". Sentinel. 26 August 1995. p. 1.
  31. ^ "Some offal rumours of sabotage - Ross Young's". Marketing Week. 6 November 1992. p. 25.
  32. ^ "Veggie food cost 'leaves bad taste'". TEvening Standard. 18 October 1995. p. 5.
  33. ^ "Linda's fat burger fury". Daily Mirror. 19 October 1995. p. 11.
  34. ^ Walton, A. Scott (19 October 1995). "Peach Buzz". Atlanta Constitution. p. F/2.
  35. ^ Bellos, Alex (19 October 1995). "Linda McCartney's veggie burgers get a roasting". The Guardian. p. 7.
  36. ^ Hornsby, Michael (19 October 1995). "McCartney burgers withdrawn over fat – Linda McCartney". The Times.
  37. ^ "Mercy meals for Bosnia". Daily Mirror. 26 September 1995. p. 14.
  38. ^ "Instant charity album goes straight to the top". Yorkshire Post. 11 September 1995.
  39. ^ "McCartneys star in cartoon, send Bosnia burgers". Reuters News. 26 September 1995.
  40. ^ "Linda McCartney's generous donation of 22 tonnes of dehydrated veggie-burger mix...". Evening Standard. 27 September 1995. p. 8.
  41. ^ "Pass notes - Linda McCartney". The Guardian. 28 September 1995. p. 2.
  42. ^ "Keeping Bosnians slim". American Enterprise. 7 (2): 9. March 1996 – via EBSCOHost.
  43. ^ "BBC News | Sci/Tech | GM soya 'in Linda McCartney food'". Retrieved 2017-10-12.
  44. ^ Gilmour, John (11 November 2000). "Briton ensures brave Brooks bid goes unrewarded". The Newcastle Herald. p. 126.
  45. ^ Denver, Tanya (5 January 2001). "Stevo battle chief". The Adelaide Advertiser.
  46. ^ "Fraud Complaint". The Times (United Kingdom). 7 March 2001. p. 36.
  47. ^ "Cash row unseats riders". The Australian. 26 January 2001.
  48. ^ "Clark wheels stop turning". Daily Telegraph. 27 January 2001.
  49. ^ "Briefs". The Age (Melbourne). 27 January 2001.
  50. ^ "Linda McCartney to introduce line of frozen meatless entrees in United States". PR Newswire. 3 December 1993.
  51. ^ "Linda McCartney plans line of frozen entrees". Buffalo News. 5 December 1993.
  52. ^ Welch, Bryan (25 March 1994). "Fab fellow finds Fairmont". Sentinel. p. 1.
  53. ^ "Linda McCartney in Minnesota to launch 'New jobs from new food'". PR Newswire. 25 March 1994.
  54. ^ "Entrees (product introduction)". Gorman's New Product News. 30 (3): 40. 11 April 1994 – via Factiva.
  55. ^ Riso, Mary Lou (6 September 1995). "Check it out". The REcord.
  56. ^ "Ad Age's World Wire". Advertising Age. 71 (7): 66. 14 February 2000 – via EBSCOHost.
  57. ^ "A Healthy Way of Life", Hain Celestial Group, accessed 1 February 2011.
    "Linda McCartney food line boosts Hain Celestial", Newsday, 10 November 2010.

    That it was owned by Heinz: Nigel Slater, "When the McCartneys came for lunch", The Observer, 29 April 2007.

  58. ^ "Sir Paul visits Linda food factory", Belfast Telegraph, 7 October 2010.