Sausage maker Heck today said it believes plant-based food will form the majority of its business in five years’ time as it cashes in on the vegan market amid a crisis in global pork production.
The Bedale-based business announced it is undertaking a big diversification drive at the start of sausage week.
For the first time, the family owned business has developed a pure plant-based frozen vegan range for Holland and Barrett and is launching into 600 stores.
The company, which sells in major supermarkets and smaller retailers, has invested £600,000 in new equipment to produce the range at its vegan facility in Leeming Bar, North Yorkshire.
The diversification comes as Pork prices have sky rocketed due to swine flu in China.
Pork shoulder prices have increased from 1.80 to 2.50 a kilo making a shortage of British pork a reality.
British pork processors are having to pay hugely inflated prices for supplies of pork meat, which is likely to lead to price hikes on supermarket shelves.
As a result, Heck said it is growing other areas of the sausage and burger market, as the pork crisis is likely to be affecting export for at least two years
In addition to Holland and Barrett, HECK vegan is now in over 100 stores in Australia and has started to talking to companies in Canada, US and Far East.
Jamie Keeble, co-founder of Heck, said the key to surviving the crisis was to diversify. Heck has identified export opportunities in the US, Australia and the EU for its vegan range as it looks to ride out a growing pork crisis.
At a recent trade show in Cologne, Heck launched its new frozen range for export.
The whole of the Heck range has also been completely designed with a new strap-line “Veg with Edge”.
Mr Keeble said: “All the big brands such as Beyond Meat and Quorn are cashing in on the vegan market and yet it’s all lab meat, made by men in white coats and test tubes, not people who really love food.
“Quite often vegan food is also full of fat, salt or allergens such as soya, particularly those marketed at children and families.
“Our plant based range is made by real people and real plants, at our dedicated factory, and what’s more, we have spent a huge amount of time and testing to make sure it tastes amazing.
“We are very much the David to the Goliath up against the vegan big boys.
“So much venture capital has gone into the “Silicon Valley” meats, but people are voting with their forks and retailers all over the world can see we are offering a much better proposition.
“I can really see our plant based vegan being the majority of our business in five years”.
He added: “Companies like Tesco are taking a really entrepreneurial approach and have increased our listings massively in the fresh vegan section.
“Also, the traditional sausage and burger market is in decline so we are continuing to look at ways to diversify and give sausage lovers something different and fun.
“We have ramped up our seasonal pork new product development and are launching a pork and treacle sausage for bonfire night - Guy Porks.
“And we are driving new ideas in chicken - a healthy take on a frankfurter - a Chickfurter – which has been launched in Morrisons and we have already had a great response.”
Mr Keeble said Heck is using sausage week to encourage consumers to ‘try something new’ - a vegan or a chicken sausage as part of its diversification push.