A Northern Ireland meat company famous for its gourmet sausages is going vegan, it has announced.

Finnebrogue Artisan in Downpatrick is opening a new vegan and vegetarian factory in a £3m investment creating up to 90 jobs. It’s hot on the heels of bakery chain Greggs launching its first vegan sausage roll.

The company, which was set up by Denis Lynn and was first known for its venison products, said its research had already “revolutionised” the bacon and ham market with the first nitrite-free free bacon launched in 2017.

Finnebrogue said it had been producing vegetarian and vegan products for three years, but the opening of a new factory marks a significant up-scaling of the firm’s meat-free production.

The new facility is expected to have turnover of £30m a year when at full capacity.

Managing director Brian McMonagle said: “Finnebrogue has always prided itself on providing consumers delicious, innovative products – and given the increasing demand for vegan and vegetarian alternatives – this new factory was the obvious next step in our extraordinary growth.

“We are determined not to stand still and are always looking to make food the best it can possibly be, without being bound by the way it’s always been done. More and more people are switching to a vegan or vegetarian diet – and even meat eaters are increasingly seeking a day or two off a week.”