Alpro says UK expansion will mean new jobs

By Ben Bouckley

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Soy milk

Alpro says UK expansion will mean new jobs
Soya milk specialist Alpro has confirmed that it is considering expanding production facilities at its UK base in Northamptonshire and creating new jobs.

Belgian firm Alpro employs around 100 staff at its UK site in Burton Latimer – which processes beans to make fresh and long-life soya milk in cartons – and the UK sales and marketing team was recently moved to Birmingham to make room for a possible site expansion.

UK marketing director John Allaway told “We are currently reviewing options to expand the production facilities at Burton Latimer which would inevitably result in an increase in employment.”

However, he said it was “too early in the planning process”​ to put a figure on the investment size. “We have however invested over £1m in upgrading our plant, principally in sustainability-driven initiatives, over the last three years.”

Niche player to mainstream brand

With Alpro an increasingly visible UK brand, Allaway said sales of soya products (which include yogurts, desserts, single cream alternatives and a ‘junior milk alternative’) had grown to around £100m per year.

"The brand has grown rapidly in the last 10 years from being a niche player in health food retail to, we believe, a mainstream consumer brand. There is still plenty of market opportunity for us to grow sales further, however,”​ he said.

And while Allaway describes soya milk as a “premium beverage”​, and admits that growth slowed during the recession, he said “we didn’t see any decline, unlike some premium beverage sectors”.

Soya health benefits

Meanwhile, the health benefits of soya are “increasingly better understood”​ by consumers, Allaway said, with Alpro products offering “quite a broad appeal”​: customers range from​25+ year olds​who see Alpro as a contributor to vitality and well-being, through to a much older audience that buys into soya for its functional benefits”.

Alpro sources its crop from China, Brazil and Southern Europe, and although Allaway noted that soya bean prices had seen rapid recent rises, he said the firm was well-placed to cope.

We have always paid a premium for our beans at Alpro because we don’t buy on the commodity market, rather direct from individual farmers whom we have built up relationships with over many years. This helps smooth out some of the market fluctuations, but the trend is obviously continuing upward,”​ he said.

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