Century-old company Samworth Brothers has long been supplying the UK’s largest supermarket, Tesco, with meat products such as Cornish pasties and pork pies. But as consumer tastes change, it is turning its attention to plant-based alternatives.
Demand for vegan foods is now so high that Samworth has opened a dedicated plant-based production facility, with equipment tailored to the animal-free products it manufactures for Tesco. The supermarket offers an extensive vegan range called Plant Chef, and many products in the range are made by Samworth.
Earlier this year, Tesco was named the UK’s number one plant-based supermarket, offering 76 own-brand vegan products along with countless others by companies such as THIS and Squeaky Bean. It was also the first retailer worldwide to offer Wicked Kitchen’s highly successful plant-based product line.
Samworth Brothers told iNews that manufacturing plant-based alternatives had been relatively straightforward — for the most part, it is able to use similar equipment and techniques to those required for its conventional products. But the company said it had initially faced some challenges sourcing the ingredients it needed in large enough quantities, in part because of its desire for innovation.
“In terms of the ingredients, a lot of what we needed at first wasn’t available from existing suppliers,” Neil Rockliff, innovation director at Samworth Brothers, told iNews. “We work to use all sorts of innovative ingredients – from jackfruit and pea protein to oyster mushrooms – to recreate the taste of meat, and we are constantly trialling new flavours and techniques to improve our products.”