Heck is to further expand its presence in the plant-based aisles with a first move into vegan mince this spring.
Described as a “convenience product for scratch cooking” by Heck co-founder Jamie Keeble, its pea protein-based Veg With Edge mince is seasoned with ingredients such as sun-dried tomatoes and garlic, making it “ready for dishes such as bolognese”, he suggested.
The chilled product will go on sale in Tesco at the start of April (rsp: £3/400g) and was a “big step” that was expected to drive significant growth for the brand in 2020, Keeble said.
“Mince is arguably bigger than sausages and burgers combined in the plant-based category, so it will be great to start taking on the big boys and be in the mix in that market.”
Heck will also start selling its Vegan Italia burgers at the same time in Tesco. It follows the brand’s entry into mince category with a trio of seasoned chicken SKUs last August.
As part of its plans to build on the success of its plant-based proposition, Heck is also preparing to open a small vertical farm at its Yorkshire HQ this spring to start trialling the growing of microgreens on site.
The move, in collaboration with London-based tech firm Vertical Future, could potentially allow Heck to significantly increase the nutrient content of its plant-based range, co-founder Debbie Keeble told The Grocer.
“We’ll be able to alter the lights on the farm to encourage growth in different types of nutrients in vegetables at significantly concentrated levels,” she said. “We’ve already started work on how to do it and what claims we can make on pack.”
This method of growing also created less waste, used less water and zero pesticides, with the added bonus the produce was grown much closer to the point of consumption, meaning fewer food miles, she added.
It was hoped the trial would ultimately lead to reformulations on some of Heck’s plant-based range later this year, Keeble added.
“People don’t just want a meat replacement now, they want a product that will also be healthy and one that is will replace all the nutrients they would normally get from meat.”
Elsewhere, the brand has also increased its TV investment for 2021 after the success of its summer ad push with a six-figure collaboration with TV presenter Julia Bradbury’s new ITV walking programme. The Heck team will star in sponsorship slots during ad breaks on the new show, which launches tonight (6 January) at 8.30pm.