A plant-based foods firm has announced a significant investment in its Milton Keynes production site to open a second manufacturing facility, a move that will create 100 local jobs.
Winterbotham Darby, an award-winning plant-based foods manufacturer, has announced it has invested £5m into the operations of its meat alternative brand, Squeaky Bean. As a result, the company will open a second dedicated plant-based manufacturing facility at Milton Keynes, creating more than 100 local jobs in the process.
The manufacturer, which took home the award for Plant-based Company of the Year at the 2021 Food Manufacture Excellence Awards, said the new 48,000 sq. ft. facility will significantly boost Squeaky Bean’s production and distribution capabilities in the chilled plant-based market*. Once finished, both facilities will have a footprint of 73,000 sq. ft.
In addition, the installation of a griller at the new facility will open up opportunities to develop new product lines, building on the success Winterbotham has found with its Chargrilled Mini Fillets.
In the last 12 months alone, Squeaky Bean has launched 14 new products. The firm utilises state-of-the-art equipment and the latest food innovation to create what it says is “the most realistic vegan chicken alternative on the market”.
‘Increasing demand for plant-based produce’
Tom Faulkner, head of plant-based at Winterbotham Darby, said: “Demand for plant-based produce is increasing rapidly and in recent months our operations have been stretched to capacity.
“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 in plant-based journey
The latest £5m investment marks the second stage in Winterbotham Darby’s plant-based journey and follows the firm’s first fully dedicated plant-based production site in Bicester in September 2020.
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.
The Winterbotham Darby announcement highlights the UK’s growing plant-based economy. This reflects the government’s National Food Strategy, which recommends investment in plant-based food brands and sets out aims for a 30% reduction in meat intake across the UK population.
*This 48,000ft² facility will significantly boost Squeaky Bean’s production and distribution capabilities in the chilled plant-based market. Here, it has driven growth, making a total turnover of £7.5m [IRI 52 w/e 17th July 21].
All images courtesy of Winterbotham Darby