Sausage-maker Heck moves into new farming venture

Heck
Rich Sunak and Mica Proctor

Yorkshire’s Heck Food has launched the next stage of its innovation programme and its plan to create a ‘Silicon Valley of Food in the Vale of York’.

The “Foogle” project, expands on Heck’s already successful entrepreneur programme, but is now expanding into agritech and sustainability.

As part of the launch, Heck will also be building the first vertical farming facility in Yorkshire, initially to grow basil and other herbs on the farm that will be used in its products.  The company will also be opening a facility alongside it’s visitor centre, showcasing the latest in food and farming innovation, while creating future farming solutions which will make it back into Heck’s successful vegan and meat burgers, bangers and sausages.

Rishi Sunak, Minister for Communities and MP for Richmond, visited Heck to hear of its plans. He said: “It’s companies like Heck that are really putting Yorkshire on the map as a county of excellence for food and growth. I was very excited to hear about all their plans for innovation and sustainability and believe that Heck really are at the forefront of food and future farming in the UK, while creating an massive innovation and income boost to Yorkshire. The plans for vertical farming is hugely exciting as this method is precise, time-efficient and waste-free method of growing and will provide inspiration for other producers looking for future food innovation.”

Heck co-founder Debbie Keeble said: “We are farmers turned producers, but now we are able to look to the future of agriculture and how we drive our business forward. There are huge benefits to vertical farming – no pesticides or herbicides, less water, no transport, less food waste, higher production, better shelf life – the list is endless. Our aim is to be able to produce a wide range of leafy veg and herbs that we can use across the range, delivering tasty flavours from farm, to factory, to plate.

We’re also looking to partner with the best of the best – the MIT of Yorkshire –  to identify new ways of growing sustainable foods and developing ingenious solutions. From old and new ways of growing, to innovation in the factory and reducing waste and sustainable packaging – we want to hear from inventors across the county – colleges and universities, entrepreneurs and indeed anyone who can make a difference and come and partner with us to create long lasting solutions and also generate income for future food businesses.”

Rishi met Richard Dropner, a food entrepreneur and part of Heck’s mentoring programme, who is developing a range of gut friendly foods to boost health through super food. Heck is working with other new food companies, including free from puddings and granola, to get them off the ground by providing end to end support from packaging and developing and sales and marketing. Heck is applying for an innovation grant to fund part of the £500,000 needed to set up the project.