Finnebrogue plans to invest £19m in another new Downpatrick factory

FOOD producer Finnebrogue Artisan plans to build a 70,000 sq ft factory and associated 20,000 sq ft of warehouse space adjacent to its existing plant in Downpatrick in what will be a £19 million investment promising scores of new jobs.

It comes amid soaring demand particularly for its vegan and vegetarian products, which have grown ten-fold in just three years.

And it will be the fourth new state-of-the-art factory Finnebrogue has opened since 2016, in which it has already invested £50 million.

A pre planning application notice has been submitted by Finnebrogue Artisan to Newry, Mourne and Down Council for the proposed construction of a food production facility comprising 21,000 sq m production floor space and 6,500 sq m warehouse storage area, associated parking and landscaping.

The company, founded in 1996 by Denis Lynn, its majority shareholder and now chairman, who converted the historic Finnebrogue estate to deer production, will put those plans on public view at an information day at its Down Business Park headquarters on Thursday March 5 from 4pm to 8pm.

A spokesman for the company told the Irish News: “Our world-beating food innovation has turbo-charged growth in recent years, and we are now accelerating plans to produce more market-leading plant-based produce.”

He added: “Consumers are more in tune with the food they eat than at any point in human history, demanding more nutritious and sustainable products, and we are determined to bring them the food they deserve, making it the best it can be without being bound by the practices of the past.”

It comes as figures show the UK has overtaken Germany as the global leader for vegan new product development.

But despite announcing a new dedicated vegan and vegetarian factory three years ago, Finnebrogue is also maintaining its position as a traditional meat supplier.

As well as producing sausage and bacon products both for supermarket own-label lines as well under its own brand, it has invested millions in a bacon production facility, where it makes its revolutionary nitrite-free free bacon, launched in 2017.

Finnebrogue currently employs close to 600 staff and this year expects its overall sales to eclipse £115 million, about a quarter of which will be from its meat-free products.

It is not yet clear whether the proposed new factory will be specifically for the production of plant-based or meat products.