The business announced earlier this year that it was going to introduce meat alternatives as part of a strategy of “building food chains based on the market demand”.
It said that the market for meat alternatives has been growing over the past few years and it is expected to continue to grow. Vion believes that next to its home markets in the Netherlands and Germany, other parts of Europe like the UK, Italy and France are also growing markets for meat alternatives, mainly as a result of eating habits of flexitarians.
The plant-based processing facility will be on the Vion site in Leeuwarden that was constructed in 2017 and is currently operating as a beef facility. According to Vion, it was built according to the latest standards, which means it can be easily adjusted to become suitable for plant-based production. The business said the site can be scaled up to add more production lines, freezing facilities and a larger storage capacity.
Current employees are not expected to be affected by the change.
CEO Ronald Lotgerink said: “The capacity for livestock processing in the Netherlands has grown significantly in the past two years, and has proven to be more than sufficient to meet the demand. Given the knowledge we gained from our investment a few years ago, we are now making the strategic choice to invest in a dedicated plant-based site in Leeuwarden. We look forward to continue our relationships with our livestock suppliers at other Vion sites and welcome arable farmers as new suppliers in our plant-based chain.”
Vion launched its plant-based ME-AT range at Anuga earlier this year. The range comprises of five meat-like, 100% vegan products, aimed at international retail and food service parties that will be available to consumers in Q1 2020.