Heck announces major expansion plans as it enters the 'grab and go' market

Upmarket sausage to burger maker, Heck Food, is to double its manufacturing capacity in a £3.5m investment which will create 20 jobs.

Heck's co-founder, Jamie Keeble
Heck's co-founder, Jamie Keeble

The family-run North Yorkshire firm, which is based in Kirklington near Bedale will boost its presence in the lucrative vegan, pork and chicken sausage and burger sector by expanding its “Sausage World” in Bedale.

Heck is planning a 40,000 sq ft expansion which will allow it to take its healthy ranges into other sectors, such as cooked snacks.

Sign up to our Business newsletter

"Bangin’ Bites" will be Heck's first foray into the “grab and go” market, which is worth billions of pounds. The range will include mini, cooked cocktail versions of its 97 per cent and Chicken Italia sausages in portable pots which will be stocked by Tesco, WH Smith and Boots.

Heck recently installed a vertical farm onsite

The firm is also planning other convenience food ranges such as filled burgers and ready meals.

Heck's co-founder, Jamie Keeble, said: “The UK is the biggest snacking market in Europe, with 66 per cent of adults snacking at least once a day and an incredible 37 per cent of young people saying they snack instead of having a proper meal.

"Our consumer is also looking to make healthier choices and there has been a 32 per cent increase in people searching online for high protein snacks.”

The company recently installed a vertical farm onsite, which will grow herbs and vegetables for its Italia and Veg with Edge ranges. The farm was built by industry leader, Vertical Future.

Heck, which was founded by the Keeble family in 2015, said the expansion will also enable it to make one million sausages a day, helping it achieve its goal of turning over £100m by 2025.

Heck already has 61 per cent of the premium branded sausage market in terms of volume and 58 per cent in terms of value.

As part of the expansion, the firm will create 20 jobs in the factory and the show team.

Mr Keeble said: “We’re one of the last independent businesses in the UK sausage industry and our great taste and hands on approach has made us the number one premium brand.

"Our vegan and frozen range were big growth areas in 2020 and we are now launching a completely new range of cooked snacks into Boots, WH Smith and Tesco. This is a massive market opportunity, particularly with travel and leisure opening up.

“We’re also really excited by the installation of the vertical farm on site. It’s literally a world first. We are farmers turned producers, my brother and grandad still farm the 800 acres around the Heck HQ and they are fascinated as the unit is the future of farming."

He said Heck will be the first food brand in the world to grow herbs and vegetables onsite to put into its meat and vegan Italia range.

"There are huge benefits to vertical farming," said Mr Keeble.

"There are no pesticides or herbicides, less water and food waste, no transport, more efficient production, taste control and better shelf life.

"Micro-nutrients will also provide fantastic health benefits as well as giving us a unique selling point. We are farmers originally and it’s really exciting to now be investing in the future of sustainable, cutting edge agriculture and not relying on imports.”

The new space will also house a creche and gym.

Mr Keeble said: “As a company, we’re very aware of the mental and physical health of our team and during lockdown it was even more apparent that people needed different types of support.

"We encourage everyone to walk every day on the railway line and we even have a dog hotel.”