Northern Irish meat producer Finnebrogue has invested £17 million to build a new nitrite-free bacon facility.
Located in Downpatrick, the site is expected to create up to 125 jobs and boost output of the firm’s Naked Bacon line, which was introduced last year.
Nitrites are added to bacon to give the meat its pink colour, its texture and act as a preservative. Finnebrogue has worked with Spanish chemist Prosur to develop the nitrite-free flavouring process. The flavour is derived from a mix of Mediterranean fruit and spice extracts.
“It has been known for decades that nitrites used in curing meat can cause cancer,” said Denis Lynn, chairman of Finnebrogue Artisan. “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.”
Business development agency Invest NI has offered Finnebrogue more than £1.3 million of support towards the capital investment. The 125 jobs will be created by 2022, with 30 already in place.
Commenting on the investment, Brian Dolaghan, executive director of business and sector development at 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.”
Finnebrogue, which also produces sausages under The Good Little Company brand, anticipates that sales of Naked Bacon will add £23 million to its turnover by 2022.
© FoodBev Media Ltd 2019
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