HECK is launching a new mentoring scheme to support and encourage other Yorkshire-based food businesses, in the wake of grant funding being pulled in the county, post Brexit.
HECK is one of the fastest-growing UK businesses in the food and drink sector, and is on track to make £30m in 2019.
Co-founder Andrew Keeble said: “For us, it’s all about doing things differently and innovating all the time. We were the first to launch a chicken sausage and now have a full range of fantastic plant based vegan sausages and burgers.
“We’re the first company to launch a vegan breakfast sausage. Our What the Heck approach allows us to do things differently and we’re now hoping to inspire the next generation of food business in Yorkshire.”
Farmers turned producers, Heck built it’s £30m factory on the old family farm and tapped into the trend of clean, lean and tasty eating, by launching a healthy range of chicken and pork sausages and burgers, gluten and dairy-free and vegan ranges. Along the way, the company have invested in the best of engineering excellence, and recently installed a £1 million sausage machine that makes up to 60,000 sausage an hour.
Andrew added: “We have experienced the ‘sink hole’ of Brexit when our funding was pulled for our £4m visitor centre and sausage world. There is now no money for rural enterprises and we believe we can make a difference by opening our doors to local food innovators.”
Keen to share their expertise and enthusiasm, HECK founders Andrew and Debbie and their experienced team are now looking for local businesses who would like some guidance on their next steps in the industry. Companies will be invited to an open day in April for a brainstorm to begin the process of establishing a centre of food excellence in the Vale of York – or the “Silicon Valley” of food as Andrew is describing it.
Ten small regional start-ups will be given the opportunity to join this Silicon Valley-style community.
One company already benefiting from HECK’s support is A Go-Go, a vegan rice pudding. Adam Dick, founder of A Go-Go, is manufacturing his products in HECK’s pristine vegan factory. He has also had the opportunity to consult with HECK’s design team for advice on style and branding, supported all the way by Andrew and Debbie.
Adam started his business in 2018, with an aim to bringing great-tasting healthy vegan foods to the UK market. He has really valued access to the experts at HECK, who have helped him move his business on to the next stage. Use of the HECK premises as a manufacturing base for A Go-Go has helped him keep production local, while still being able to guarantee his food as vegan friendly.
Heck has continued to enjoy brilliant growth but are very aware that post Brexit and in current market conditions it’s never the time to rest on its laurels.
Andrew said: “We need to keep innovating, do more of the same. We are well aware the big boys are watching our every move but they simply cannot compete on quality, taste and our amazing people who are the back bone of the business.
“We are having fantastic success with our vegan sausages and burgers from our bespoke factory, and our proposition of flavour and natural ingredients, combined with one of the UK’s most trusted brand names puts us in a strong position. HECK Vegetarian is soon to be stocked in TESCO and is already in ASDA, Sainsbury’s, Waitrose and OCADO. Growth has also created profit, we which are able to invest back into the business and community and develop the Heck family.
“We have a significant market share and have pretty much blown the opposition away however here again we are not complacent and when a new challenge does appear it will probably be a new start up with a backer and we will simply deal with that when and if it comes. HECK is a family organisation and we are really good to do business with; simple , no fuss and we deliver on everything that we promise.
“We are now looking at new audiences to take HECK to in completely new categories, these are exciting times ahead with our sights set on exporting to Australia (vegetarian) Belgium, Ireland and Germany and we have made our first inroads to Food Service.”