A FAMILY-OWNED sausage maker aims to take a greater bite into the premium market after creating 75 jobs in a £3.5m factory expansion.

Heck Food has moved into a new 30,000sq ft site as bosses seek to get products on the plates of more customers up and down the country.

The company, founded by Andrew and Debbie Keeble, says the plant, based alongside the A1(M) at Kirklington near Bedale, North Yorkshire, can make hundreds of sausages every minute, adding it will help increase turnover to £18m this year.

Already known for seeing its products stocked on the shelves of Tesco, Asda and Morrisons, Heck, which formerly operated from Leeming Bar Industrial Estate, also near Bedale, has also launched a vegetarian brand with Waitrose, and Mr Keeble said the company’s expansion will ensure it remains a favourite in the UK’s food industry.

He also said the extra capacity will help the business go a long way to doubling its share of the premium sausage market, which has seen the firm previously unveil ranges such as Thai-style turkey sausages and smoky paprika chicken chipolatas.

He said: “We’re one of the last independent businesses in the UK sausage industry, selling nearly double the volume of our closest competitor, and the new factory will be key to securing our place as Britain’s favourite sausage on the plate.

“Innovation is at the heart of what we do and we’ve been busy taking the traditional British banger and giving it a healthier makeover.

“The vegetarian brand we launched with Waitrose last year has been a huge success, while our lower fat chicken and new vegan ranges are going down a storm too.”

The business’ growth was supported by backing from a £2.35m finance package from Lloyds Bank, which also provided a £530,000 hire purchase facility to help fund the plant’s new production lines.

Mr Keeble added: “Lloyds has been an important partner in helping us to grow further and continue to innovate.”

Ian Smellie, Lloyds Bank’s relationship director, said he was delighted to have played a part in Heck’s growth.

He added: “Heck is in an excellent position to exceed growth expectations for food and drink firms over the next five years.

“It is ambitious and innovative producers like Heck that are creating jobs and investing in growing young talent, and helping Britain’s food and drink sector to prosper.”