Former Walkers factory to help Peterlee become 'vegan burger capital' as Heather Mills' VBites begins production
Peterlee's ex-Walkers factory looks set to become the “vegan burger capital” with a food firm led by Heather Mills already turning out meals.
VBites, headed up by Washington woman Ms Mills, is already working on an order of 500million burgers destined to travel from East Durham to America, with a yet-to-be-revealed “biggest fast food chain in the world” calling for the production line to supply it with 400 million burgers, which will require £15million investment in the site.
It has a staff of 47 so far, while hundreds more will be taken on as investment grows and its products are added to the burger and fishsteak lines and further deals are agreed.
Ms Mills gave an update as she spoke at the launch of Plant Based Valley in Seaton Delaval, based at the former Coty cosmetics factory site.
It will help expand her company’s production and be a hub for vegan start-up businesses to become the “equivalent of California’s Silicon Valley,” bringing hundreds more jobs.
Vbites also makes Beyond Meat burgers and supplies food for companies including Holland and Barrett and Ocado, while talks have been held with Seaham cheese firm Prima and others with a view to working together and sourcing supplies locally.
Ms Mills said: “There’s a lot of community spirit and we are planning to work with SK Foods a lot and we’ve all reached out.
“We’ve had a brilliant meeting with Eden Farms with 23 of their sales team, we’ve fed them and they all loved the food, so they’re going to be putting food out and we’re just trying to encourage everybody to buy locally.
“Next for the site is to raise more funds so we can put in more and more lines, because one of the biggest fast food chains in the world wants us to do 400million burgers, but that’s about a £15million investment.
“It will be a vegan burger capital and vegan fishsteaks, we make for all the Greene King Pubs, so if you’re down the pub, get a Greene King VBites fishsteak, with sweet potato fries and mushy peas.”