The company will begin with growing basil for its Chicken Italia range on its site in north Yorkshire using indoor stacked planters to produce a pipeline of leafy greens. The business which forecasts a £50 million turnover next year also plans to open a new farming innovations centre. “There are huge benefits to vertical farming – no pesticides or herbicides, less water and food waste, no transport, higher production and better shelf life,” says Debbie Keeble who co-founded the north Yorkshire company with husband Andrew six years ago.

“We’re also looking to identify new ways of growing sustainable foods and closed loop factory solutions reducing waste and packaging.

“We want to hear from inventors across the country and help generate income for future food businesses.”

Following a surge in demand for its vegan ranges the category is expected to account for 20 per cent of Heck’s sales in 2020.

Now in 1,000 stores, the company is looking at supplying frozen vegan for retail and has just struck an agreement with leading catering supplier Bidfood to take the products into food service. 

“Vegan products are easier to export than meat ones. We are already selling in Australia and launching in Holland next April,” adds Keeble.

Vegan and export success will help fund Heck’s latest project and the firm is also bidding for an innovation grant.

www.heckfood.co.uk

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