The manufacturer has launched the range in 600 stores across the country, supported by an investment in new machinery at its vegan facility in Leeming Bar, North Yorkshire.
Heck co-founder and head of sales Jamie Keeble said the development of the vegan range was a response to the growing number of manufacturers choosing to invest in lab-based meats “made by men in white coats and test tubes, not people who really love food”.
Up against the ‘vegan big boys’
“Quite often, vegan food is also full of fat, salt or allergens such as soya, particularly those marketed at children and families,” said Keeble. “Our plant-based sausages are made by real people and we have spent a huge amount of time and testing to make sure it tastes amazing. We are very much the David to the Goliath, up against the vegan big boys.
“So much venture capital has gone into the ‘Silicon Valley’ meats, but people are voting with their forks and retailers all over the world can see we are offering a much better proposition.”
Heck’s push for more vegan sausage development is part of a big diversification drive in its product offering, spurred by rocketing pork prices in light of swine flu outbreaks in China.
“I can really see our plant-based vegan being the majority of our business in five years and a huge market outside the EU,” Keeble added.
‘Looking to diversify’
"Companies like Tesco are taking a really entrepreneurial approach and have increased our listings massively in the fresh vegan section. Also, the traditional sausage and burger market is in decline, so we are continuing to look at ways to diversify and give sausage-lovers something different and fun.”
In addition to its launch in Holland & Barrett, Heck’s vegan range is now available in 100 stores in Australia and plans have been made to extend its reach to Canada, the US and the Far East.
Meanwhile, lab-grown meat has moved a step closer to becoming commercially viable after US researchers successfully grew rabbit and cow muscle cells on edible gelatine ‘scaffolds’ to mimic the texture and consistency of natural meat.