Meadow Foods—the UK’s largest dairy group and producer—is taking on the vegan milk market. The company announced it will invest £4 million to create a factory to manufacture plant-based dairy products.
The new facility will produce a variety of oat- and rice-based products. These include creams, yogurts, milk, and custards. It will be located at the company’s Chester site.
“We’re excited to be developing our capabilities and capacity to manufacture a range of plant-based products that extend the strength and depth of our product portfolio,” Mark Chantler, CEO of Meadow Foods, told FoodBev Media.
“Dairy remains core to our business,” he continued. “And we will continue to explore strategic investments, partnerships, and acquisitions that extend the range of quality products we are able to offer our customers. [This will allow] us to offer complementary products alongside our dairy range.”
Meadow Foods began construction on the new facility in January. Production is expected to start at the end of the year.
The UK Embraces Plant-Based Foods
Meadow Foods’ expansion comes amid the growing demand for plant-based foods in the UK.
A recent study commissioned by British vegetarian brand Linda McCartney’s found more than 12 million meat-eating Brits consumed less pork, beef, lamb, and chicken in 2019 compared to previous years. The diet shift saved each person approximately £550—totaling £6.7 billion in savings.
Throughout 2020, the study found more than one-fifth of participants plan to decrease their meat consumption even further.
“This decision is in direct response to consumers who are choosing to make lifestyle changes and purchase new and innovative products as well as demand from our customers for high quality, valued-added plant-based ingredients,” Chantler said in a statement.
The new range adds to Meadow Foods’ product portfolio. It was strengthened last year following Nimbus Foods acquisition of the company in October 2019. Nimbus Foods is one of Europe’s top manufacturers and innovators of high-quality inclusions, decorations, and toppings.
“We’ve made significant investments in the business to enable us to extend our product portfolio and meet the changing needs of our customers,” Chantler said in a release following the acquisition.