UK manufacturer Finnebrogue is to invest £2.8m ($3.6m) to upgrade its three-year-old plant-based food factory.

The Northern Ireland business, best known for its nitrite-free Better Naked Bacon brand, said the move will accommodate further growth.

Finnebrogue’s investment is a rare bit of good news for the beleaguered UK plant-based sector. Last month, alt-meat company Meatless Farm entered administration and earlier in July food manufacturer Samworth Brothers was said to be mulling the future of its Revolution Kitchen business, which makes the Wicked Kitchen range for Tesco.

But County Down-based Finnebrogue, which also makes pork sausages, wagyu burgers and sauces, has confidence in the category’s future.

The company is also a co-manufacturer and supplier of plant-based food to UK supermarkets for their own-brand purposes.

Finnebrogue’s chief strategy officer Jago Pearson said: “We are particularly confident about the increasingly significant role we can play in the plant-based category in the years to come, our output having grown three-fold in two years and our development teams working intensively on the agenda-setting innovation that has always been the foundations of our success.

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“Our latest investment in our industry-leading plant-based facility will reduce our carbon emissions, deliver additional energy security and provide us with additional room to grow. “

Finnebrogue has installed 2,846 solar panels on the roof of the factory and is expanding car parking and infrastructure around the site.

The factory, based near Finnebrogue’s three other manufacturing facilities, opened at the end of 2020 as Finnebrogue entered the category with a £32m plant investment.

Family-owned Finnebrogue said its overall revenue is likely to surpass £200m this year, up from £188m last year.