Sausage-maker Heck diversifies on back of changes in world pork markets

Jamie Keeble

Major changes in global pork prices and production have led Bedale-based banger-maker Heck to diversify into other areas of the sausage and burger market.

Ahead of UK Sausage Week, which starts today, the firm said that pork prices had sky rocketed due to swine flu in China, which had made a shortage of British pork prices a reality – a position they don’t expect to change for two years.

For the first time, family owned HECK! has developed a pure plant-based frozen vegan range for Holland & Barrett, and are launching into 600 stores. The company has invested £600,000 in new equipment to produce the range at its dedicated vegan facility in Leeming Bar. In addition to Holland and Barrett, HECK! vegan is now in over 100 stores in Australia and have started to talking to companies in Canada, US and Far East. At the recent trade show in Cologne, Heck launched its new frozen range for export to wide acclaim. Also, the whole of the HECK! range has also been completely designed with a new strap-line “Veg with Edge”.

Company co-founder Jamie 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.

“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.”