FOOD and drink producers in County Durham are being urged to tap into the increasingly lucrative vegan market.

The market is growing rapidly and making a greater contribution to the region’s economy than it ever has before.

The North East’s offering within the vegan food market is also expected to increase in the coming months with the opening of Heather Mills’ Vbites snack range facility at the former Walkers crisps factory in Peterlee.

The Durham Food and Drink Network, which works with small but growing producers within County Durham to help them get their products to market, is keen to do its bit to help companies to capitalise on the opportunities which are now available within the vegan food market and has organised an event will put the market under the microscope.

The event will include a talk with Ian Wharton, who is project managing the Vbites move into the Peterlee facility on behalf of Ms Mills. Ian has over 30 years of experience working in food and drink manufacturing and will give his expert thoughts on how businesses can expand into the vegan food market.

Steve Robson, project manager for the Durham Food and Drink Network, said: “This vegan food market is becoming increasingly trendy and lucrative for producers of food and drink and we want to explore what opportunities there are for businesses in our area.

“We will hear from Ian who will give an update on the Vbites move into County Durham and how other smaller producers can capitalise on the momentum this has created for the vegan food market.”

The event is taking place on Wednesday, May 22, at the Bean Social café in Durham city centre. To book your place email

Durham Food and Drink Network is managed by East Durham Business Service, CDC Enterprise Agency and South Durham Enterprise Agency on behalf of the Business Durham ‘Durham Business Opportunities Programme’ team.