Winterbotham Darby, the UK’s leading supplier of chilled Mediterranean and plant based foods, has announced a £5 million investment into the operations of its plant-based meat alternative brand, Squeaky Bean. As a result, the company will open a second dedicated plant-based manufacturing facility at Milton Keynes.
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].
This marks the second stage in Winterbotham Darby’s plant-based journey, with the first plant-based manufacturing site having been finalised in September 2020. Combined, both factories will have a 73,000ft² footprint. Already, the new Milton Keynes site has received a British Retail Consortium (BRC) A grade in its audit.
Further, the installation of a griller in the factory will open up additional opportunities for new product lines to be created in the plant-based category where success is often founded in innovative New Product Development (NPD). In the last 12 months, Squeaky Bean has launched 14 new products, and it is planned that the additional grilling capacity will build on the success of Squeaky Bean’s Chargrilled Mini Fillets. The company uses the latest food innovation and state of the art equipment to create what Winterbotham Darby states to be ‘the most realistic vegan chicken alternative on the market’.
Tom Faulkner, head of plant-based at Winterbotham Darby, says: “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.”
More than 100 jobs have been created by the investment, which is part of 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.