At its plant in Forres, Meatsnacks Group Ltd (MGL) produces high protein beef, chicken and pork jerky for both brand and private label with a shelf life of more than 18 months without refrigeration.
Europe’s largest jerky and biltong producer, the company exports to 27 countries. Its UK customers include Marks and Spencer, Tesco, Sainsbury’s, BP, Shell, Asda, The Co-operative, Waitrose and Lidl.
MGL also took over the lease of the Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) smokehouse facility in Grantown last year, where it has now started producing salmon jerky.
The firm has embarked on a £557,500 development project with a £155,750 investment from HIE. It will include major rebranding of products from Forres and Grantown, significantly expanding its Forres facility, and creating up to 25 full time equivalent jobs.
The move is expected to increase MLG’s current £13m turnover by more than £3m over the next three years, including around £480,000 from export sales.
To keep up with growing demand the company has been running its Forres two-oven operation, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Installing a third and upgrading other equipment at the plant will increase capacity to accommodate additional demand.
HIE has been working with MGL since 2012 when the company was looking to establish a site in the UK to produce Jerky instead of having to import it from South America. In 2012 the firm acquired a site in the Greshop Industrial estate, Forres. Production began in March 2013 with five staff and 52 full time people are now employed at the site.
A further nine people are employed at the Grantown facility and this is expected to increase in line with salmon jerky production.
HIE has previously provided research and development funding for the company, and support for training and consultancy.
Angie Smith, business development account manager at HIE, said: “This is great news for Meatsnacks and for Forres and Grantown. The company has rapidly become established as an important contributor to Moray’s growing food and drink sector, with sales and production increasing steadily over the past four years.
“The 24-hour seven-day week operation demonstrates the readiness for MGL to expand and we are very pleased to support this investment by the company. It will create a significant number of valuable new jobs, many of which are likely to appeal to young people. It will also provide additional security for the existing workforce and consolidate the firm’s presence in both locations.”
Alan Craig, Director, Meatsnacks Group Ltd, said: “The support we’ve received from HIE over the past five years has enabled us to expand sooner into products such as salmon and chicken jerky. This has also broadened our product appeal in markets across Europe, North America and Asia. Our growth plans are on track for 2018 and with increased capacity in our Scottish facilities we will be well placed to respond to growth in this dynamic sector of protein snacking.”