Finnebrogue Artisan said the new facility, situated at its current site in Co Down, would create 90 jobs and generate £30m in sales when at full capacity.
The family-owned business has made vegetarian and vegan products since 2016, but the new factory opening was timed to coincide with a “significant up-scaling” of the firm’s meat-free production, Finnebrogue said.
Its current meat-free range includes vegan burgers Beet & Quinoa and Spicy Bean, and the vegetarian Halloumi & Tomato burger.
More than one-third (34%) of meat eaters reduced their meat consumption in 2018, while a further 21% said they would be interested in limiting or reducing their meat consumption in the future, according to Mintel.
UK is the world leader
The research company last week revealed that the UK had overtaken Germany as the world’s leading country for vegan new product launches. One in six (16%) of food products launched in the UK last year had a vegan/no animal ingredients claim, doubling from 8% in 2015.
More and more people were switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet – and even meat-eaters were increasingly seeking a day or two off a week, said Finnebrogue managing director Brian McMonagle.
“Finnebrogue has always prided itself on providing consumers delicious, innovative products and, given the increasing demand for vegan and vegetarian alternatives, this new factory was the obvious next step in our extraordinary growth,” he added.
“Alongside the opening of our new factory, our new product development team is doing extensive work to make some of the tastiest meat-free products on the market.”
Nitrite-free bacon and ham
Pitching itself as an artisan producer, Finnebrogue last year launched what it claimed were the first mass-produced nitrite-free bacon and ham products on the UK market.
It worked with Spanish firm Prosur to flavour Naked Bacon and Naked Ham with natural Mediterranean fruit and spice extracts, removing the need for nitrites – something it claimed had never been achieved before.
Other brands include Naked Sausages and the gluten-free The Good Little Company sausage range. Finnebrogue also supplies venison and wagyu beef to retailers.Turnover at the company has grown from £5m in 2009 to close to £90m in the 2018/19 financial year.
Meanwhile, Scottish firm Daring Foods last week announced it had signed a distribution deal with foodservice wholesaler Lomond Fine Food – the first for the meat alternatives company.