Finnebrogue creates 125 jobs with £17m product investment
Co Down food processor Finnebrogue has announced the creation of 125 jobs in a £17m expansion.
The Downpatrick-based food firm is investing in a manufacturing facility for the production of its nitrite-free bacon range.
Finnebrogue, which began producing Naked Bacon last year, has described the product as a breakthrough for the food processing sector.
The company has already recruited 30 staff as part of the £17m expansion, with economic development agency Invest NI offering the food processor around £1.3m towards both the capital investment and its new roles.
The remainder of the 95 posts are expected to be filled by 2022.
The major investment marks the latest milestone for the company. Finnebrogue has been among the fastest growing food manufacturers in the UK, with its turnover increasing from £5m to over £90m per year over the last 10 years.
It already produces The Good Little Company range of healthy sausages and recently opened a vegetarian factory.
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The company is anticipating that sales of Naked Bacon will add £23m to its turnover by 2022.
Explaining the demand for the bacon, company chairman Denis Lynn said: "It has been known for decades that nitrites used in curing meat can cause cancer. That's why, despite being the UK's leading top-tier sausage maker, we refused to make a single rasher of bacon until we could figure out a way to make it better and safer.
"We always set out to make food the best it can be, without being bound by the way it has always been done. And so, after much research, we discovered a process that uses fruit and spice extracts to flavour the pork, keep it pink and retain shelf life.
"We are using this technology in our Naked Bacon and we've had a great response from both retailers and consumers."
Brian Dolaghan from Invest NI said: "Northern Ireland's reputation as a region that produces innovative, quality food has been enhanced by the innovation and development of nitrite-free bacon by Finnebrogue.
"The product has been welcomed by top food scientists as a significant advancement in food safety and has already found a market among health-conscious consumers.
"Agri-food is one of our priority sectors and it is great to see the new facility operational and producing this cutting-edge product. Our support is ensuring Finnebrogue is able to capitalise on its innovation and realise growth.
"The local economy will also benefit from this fantastic food innovation as the 125 new jobs will deliver over £3m to the economy each year in salaries."