NI bacon producer announces £25m expansion into plant-based market

Co Down food producer Finnebrogue Artisan is investing £25m and creating 300 new jobs

Co Down food producer Finnebrogue Artisan is investing £25m and creating 300 new jobs as it creates a huge new factory to expand into the plant-based food market.Finnebrogue, known for its nitrite-free bacon, is also a private-label supplier of sausages and burgers to several British supermarkets and farms its own deer and wagyu cattle, is now making a major entrance into the plant-based food arena in January 2021.The firm is building a new factory the size of three Premier League football pitches that will be the most advanced food facility in Europe.

The new plant – measuring more than 200,000 sq ft – will be Finnebrogue’s fourth new factory in five years and brings the firm’s overall investment during that period to £80 million.The investment will take Finnebrogue’s head count to 1200 by the end of 2021 and promises to be a valuable boost to local employment opportunities in Northern Ireland, which has seen sections of its aviation, shipbuilding and hospitality sectors decimated by coronavirus.

George Eustice, Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, commented: “Finnebrogue is a great example of what our brilliant food industry has to offer. The UK produces some of the finest food in the world – and our food heroes have done an incredible job of keeping the nation fed during these last few challenging months.”I am very pleased that Finnebrogue’s brand new investment will provide a valuable boost to local employment opportunities in Northern Ireland, advancing the company’s ambition to create and promote fantastic and affordable UK food.”Commenting on the investment, Finnebrogue managing director Andrew Nethercott said: “Plant-based food does not have to be nutritionally barren or extortionately expensive – nor does it have to taste like cardboard.

“There is surging demand from an educated and discerning consumer base in Britain for more delicious, nutritious, sustainable and affordable food – and particularly plant-based food.”

– Andrew Nethercott, Finnebrogue Managing Director

He continued: “These flexitarians – or “meat reducers” – are our market. The people who buy our Naked Bacon because it is made without nitrites and our Naked Sausages because they are preservative-free – are the same people who are increasingly seeking one or two days off meat a week, but without the compromise associated with most of the products currently available.”This new facility will enable us to provide our consumers with the more nutritious and sustainable food they are demanding. It is just the latest chapter in a journey that started with us turning over just £3 million and employing 30 people ten years ago. By 2023, our turnover will have reached in excess of £220 million and we will be employing more than 1200 people in our beautiful rural corner of Northern Ireland.”Finnebrogue is yet to reveal the portfolio of products it will be launching in January, but a spokesman for Finnebrogue commented:”This state-of-the-art factory, combined with some extraordinary technological leaps in new product development, will enable us to make nutritionally balanced, delicious and sustainable plant-based food that’s virtually indistinguishable from the meat we will be imitating. “It is a tantalising prospect for flexitarians up and down the United Kingdom.”