The manufacturer, which took home the award for Plant-based Company of the Year at the 2021 Food Manufacture Excellence Awards, said the new 4,459m2 facility would significantly boost Squeaky Bean’s production and distribution capabilities.
Further, the installation of a griller at the new site will open up the ability to develop new product lines, building on the success Winterbotham has found with its Chargrilled Mini Fillets. The investment has also led to the creation of 100 new jobs.
Tom Faulkner, head of plant-based at Winterbotham Darby, said demand for plant-based produce was increasing rapidly and operations had been stretched to capacity in recent months.
“Opening our second plant-based factory will help us to fulfil both existing and new opportunities and is testament to our belief in the category. As UK consumers’ expectations of plant-based food increase, more people are discovering how Squeaky Bean Chargrilled Mini Fillets offer all the taste and texture of real chicken – but are made entirely from plants.
“Our additional production capacity will support strong demand for these products and allow us to introduce these and the rest of the range, to a bigger audience than ever before.”
Second stage of investment
Winterbotham’s Milton Keynes investment marked the second stage in its plant-based journey and followed the finalisation of its first fully dedicated plant-based production site in Bicester last year. Combined, the two sites have a 6,782m2 footprint.
Squeaky Bean said the supply and demand of plant-based products had increased during 2020, with younger consumers the key driver of growth – the brand attracted more than twice the proportion of 18-24 year-olds versus the average in the plant-based ready-to-eat category, it claimed.
Distribution of the Squeaky Bean range has increased fivefold since December 2019, with its products now available in the big four retailers – including a launch into Tesco stores in November 2020.
Meanwhile, Welsh butcher Edwards of Conwy is doubling capacity and creating 20 new jobs as part of a £2.6m expansion of its headquarters on the Morfa Conwy business park.