Vegetarian product producer Quorn Foods has announced a £30m investment programme at its Teesside site, creating 400 new jobs across the business.
The company is building a third fermenter at its Billingham site to keep up with growing global demand for its meat-free products.
The Stokesley-headquartered firm is already the UK’s 35th largest food brand, ahead of Heinz, Doritos and Innocent, and the new fermenter will boost production at the site by 50%.
The investment over the next 18 months will create 400 roles, 100 predominantly in its construction and 300 in the facility’s operation and through the supply chain.
Site expansion at Quorn - in numbers
Quorn Foods' sales growth in 2014 Q1
Production increase from new fermenter
Jobs created by new £30m investment
Support roles at the company’s Stokesley base have also been created.
It follows a sustained 15-month period of growth for the company, when sales were up 13.5% in the first three months of 2014, and UK and international sales grew by 12 and 21% respectively.
Turnover has soared 7% across the group from £131m in 2012 to £140.9m last year and operating profit also lifted £500,000 to £11.3m. The company, which employs 600 people, currently exports to 13 countries, including Australia and the US where sales over Q1 of 2014 have increased by 24% and 42% respectively.
And the UK business experienced its fastest ever growth last year, with a 13% increase in total sales at a time when the firm said most other food producers flatlined.
Since becoming a private company Quorn has made a number of strategic investments, including £15m in global marketing for 2014 to help reframe the brand as a healthy protein.
Last year the firm attracted more than two million customers, taking the total to more than 12.2m. And for the first time, meat-eaters now outnumber its vegetarian buyers.
Kevin Brennan, chief executive of Quorn Foods, said: “While Quorn is now well established as a global brand we’re proud to say that the nucleus of our operations remains in Yorkshire and the North East.
“As people are rethinking their meat-eating habits, demand for our products has soared and we’re now in a position where we need to expand our production facilities. Not only will this additional fermenter boost production by up to 50%, but it will also create jobs, boosting the local economy at a time when it is most needed.
“Once the third fermenter is operational and fully utilised we expect to create over 300 jobs, at Quorn and our suppliers and partners.
“Already at Quorn we have created 20 new roles this year including apprenticeships and international commercial roles.”