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Squeaky Bean, the British plant-based brand best known for its vegan chicken, will soon be opening up a second factory to expand production. Investing £5 million into the new 48,000-square-foot facility, the brand’s parent company Winterbotham Darby says the expansion will also pave the way for new vegan products to be launched in the coming months.
Squeaky Bean just got its second dedicated plant-based manufacturing facility, after a £5 million injection from its parent firm Winterbotham Darby. The site, based in Milton Keynes, will help the British vegan chicken brand ramp up its production and distribution footprint, amid surging demand for plant-based foods in the country.
The facility will offer Squeaky Bean 48,000 square feet of fresh space to churn out more vegan chicken, after opening up its first Bicester-based factory in September last year. It will feature a new griller, which will help the brand create new product lines, said the company, which claims it offers the “the most realistic vegan chicken alternative on the market.”
It will also help to create 100 new jobs for the region, said Winterbotham Darby, who reported record sales with Squeaky Bean turning over £7.5 million over the past year as of July 2021.
“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,” commented Tom Faulkner, head of plant-based at Winterbotham Darby.
Product expansion on the horizon
Squeaky Bean says that the opening of a new factory means that its rapid R&D and product innovation isn’t going anywhere. Over the past year alone, the brand has launched 14 new products, and it anticipates that the “additional grilling capacity will build on the success” of its new chargrilled range.
“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,” said Faulkner. “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.”
Earlier this year, Squeaky Bean was named the winner of the Plant-Based Food Manufacturer of the Year at the U.K.-based Food Manufacture Excellence Awards 2021. It was recognised for its “impressive pace of roll-out” since its inception in 2019.
Winterbotham Darby noted that launching more vegan products on the market and boosting job opportunities in the country’s plant-based sector with its new factory is aligned with the new National Food Strategy, which advises a 30% reduction in meat consumption in England.
Surging vegan demand
Propelled by Covid-19, more consumers in Britain have been shifting towards a plant-based diet than ever before. The country’s vegan meat market is one of Europe’s most highly valued, worth $470 million, according to data from the EU-backed Smart Protein Project.
Other consumer polls estimate that as many as a quarter of all British consumers are now actively reducing their meat, egg and dairy consumption.
Eyeing the business opportunity to be made, many of U.K.’s biggest retailers are now ramping up their vegan offerings. Supermarket giants M&S and Tesco, for instance, have both set ambitious goals to expand their own-branded vegan products and even set sales targets for the sector. Asda, on the other hand, has opened up entirely vegan aisles in its brick-and-mortar stores.
All images courtesy of Squeaky Bean.