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Squeaky Bean, the British ready-to-eat plant-based brand known for its vegan chicken range, has been named the winner of the Plant-Based Food Manufacturer of the Year at the U.K.-based Food Manufacture Excellence Awards 2021. The brand, a subsidiary of food distributor and supplier Winterbotham Darby, was recognised as an example of food businesses successfully pivoting to meet rising mainstream consumer demand for convenient plant-based foods.
British vegan chicken “lunchtime sidekick” brand Squeaky Bean has been awarded the Plant-Based Food Manufacturer of the Year by the industry news, insight and magazine Food Manufacture. Squeaky Bean was created in 2019 as a pilot to trial ingredients, processes and flavours under its parent company Winterbotham Darby, who lists Dutch meat-free brand Vivera among its marketing partners.
Since its inception, Squeaky Bean has launched a number of ready-to-eat plant-based chicken pieces in various flavours, as well as tortilla and sandwich slices, vegan pastrami, crispy “duck” and reheatable meals like katsu curry, Chinese-style “ribs”, nuggets, kievs, falafels and fish-free fingers. It is available across major retailers in the U.K., including Asda, Sainsbury’s, Tesco, Waitrose and e-commerce platform Ocado.
Judges of Food Manufacture’s excellence awards based their decision on a number of criteria, including achievements in customer relationship building, quality assurance, environment and efficiency, skills development, and training and business development.
According to a press release from Winterbotham Darby, Squeaky Bean was commended for being a “great example” of a company transitioning into a new product category as consumer appetites continue to shift towards plant-based products, as well as its “impressive pace of roll-out” within just 13 months.
To win this award further endorses all that hard work and to be recognised independently is a fantastic boost for the team.Tom Faulkner, Head of Plant-Based, Winterbotham Darby
The news comes on the heels of Squeaky Bean’s newly opened 100% plant-based factory based in Bicester dedicated to manufacturing its vegan range, which will allow the brand to continue scaling up production to meet surging demand.
We’re really excited for our upcoming launches this Spring and Summer that will again deliver craveable food for consumers looking to escape plant-based norms.Tom Faulkner, Head of Plant-Based, Winterbotham Darby
“Once again, our passionate, committed, innovative and enthusiastic team achieved all that we set out to do – with positive feedback from customers and consumers alike for the finished product. To win this award further endorses all that hard work and to be recognised independently is a fantastic boost for the team,” commented Tom Faulkner, head of plant-based at Winterbotham Darby.
“The innovation from the Squeaky Bean team continues and we’re really excited for our upcoming launches this Spring and Summer that will again deliver craveable food for consumers looking to escape plant-based norms,” Faulkner continued.
With industry experts anticipating no slowdown of the plant-based trend in the U.K. and across Europe, other food businesses are too quickly ramping up vegan offerings, such as supermarket giants M&S and Tesco, who say they will innovate more own-branded plant-based products and have set ambitious sales targets for the category. Asda has responded by launching 100% vegan aisles across its stores, becoming the first U.K. retailer to make the move.
All images courtesy of Squeaky Bean.