US food brand Amy’s Kitchen will start production in the UK in early June, as fitting out its new Corby plant nears completion.
The firm specialises in vegetarian food and food for people on special diets (gluten-free, dairy-free etc.) and is one of the US’s most successful independent food brands.
It already has distribution deals with supermarkets Asda, Sainsbury’s and Waitrose as well as health food companies including Holland & Barrett.
UK and Europe business development director Steve Warnert told FoodManufacture.co.uk that Amy’s has now recruited members of its management team including technical, production and sales directors as well as a product development chef from London vegetarian restaurant Mildreds.
A total of 30 staff would be in place for launch in early June, and the 58,000 sq ft Corby site has capacity for 200-300 staff over the next two to three years.
Amy’s never outsourced production Warnert said, and would be making ingredients such as tofu on site as well as canning soups.
“Initially what we sell will be pretty similar to the range in the UK, because that is what we know how to do. But as we get more familiar with the market we will be creating new recipes,” he said.
That range would include canned soups at £1.45 and ready meals such as Mexican, Indian and Italian ready meals priced at around £2.50. Supermarkets were expressing a lot of initial interest in gluten-free options, he added.
No obvious rivals
He said: “It is not quite obvious who our rivals are, I suppose anyone in the freezer sector. However a lot of meat-free suppliers focus on meat alternatives, whereas we do ready meals so we bring something new to the party. In the canned soups sector it would be premium brands such as Baxters.”
The company was currently appointing organic ingredients suppliers, he said, and was keen to source as much produce as possible in the UK. It hoped to achieve organic certification with Organic Farmers & Growers by the end of the year, he added.
It would then start exporting to European markets where organic food was popular, including Germany, Scandinavia, Holland as well as France and Belgium.
Said Warnert: “We will take it slow. If all goes well we hope to break even in two to three years. Amy’s is a family owned and self-financed business, which has invested several million in this project and we are here to see it work.”
Amy’s Kitchen was founded by Andy Berliner, in partnership with his wife Rachel in 1987. The company employs over 1,500 people and operates processing plants in Santa Rosa, California and White City, Oregon. The corporate headquarters is in Petaluma, California.