NI food firm’s expansion continues at Mallusk Enterprise Park

Owner of The Hungry Vegan John Darby with Chief Executive of Mallusk Enterprise Park, Emma Garrett.
Owner of The Hungry Vegan John Darby with Chief Executive of Mallusk Enterprise Park, Emma Garrett.

A convenience food offering from a Northern Ireland company is moving up a gear with its expansion into new premises in Mallusk Enterprise Park.

From its humble beginnings as owner John Darby sought to find a vegan sandwich, The Hungry Vegan now employs 14 people and stocks more than 20 locations with ‘on-the-go’ convenience food with plans to provide more throughout Northern Ireland.

They have now joined more 61 other businesses in the burgeoning Mallusk Enterprise Park portfolio, enjoying a range of support services.

John said: “The size and scale of our new premises means that our expansion plans will be future proof. Emma Garrett and the team in MEP have been instrumental throughout our early growth stages. They have provided mentoring support which has guided us through many peaks and troughs.”

Chief Executive of Mallusk Enterprise Park, Emma Garrett said: “We were very excited to welcome John to the Park.

”I myself, a life-long vegetarian, realised the great potential for his business as more and more people are enjoying the benefits associated with having a meat-free diet yet there are still limited options available in our high street convenience stores.

“The Enterprise Park was established back in 1992 to support entrepreneurs such as John at start-up stage and this remains the case today.”

The Hungry Vegan began life in 2016 as The Honest Vegan restaurant on Belfast’s Lisburn Road at a time when John struggled to find vegan food.

He said: “Restaurants, cafes and supermarkets simply had no vegan options unless you were a fan of dry salad bowls and tins of fruit salad”.

As more restaurants were offering vegan options on their menus John realised there was another business option opening.

“For me the next challenge was providing fresh vegan offerings into convenience stores across Northern Ireland. This is why we evolved into handmade vegan food production. We quickly grew out of our first catering kitchen and we were thrilled to find our new home in Mallusk Enterprise Park.”

Emma said: “We offer a full range of free business support services to individuals at each and every stage of their entrepreneurial journey.

“We offer the Pre-Start Exploring Enterprise Programme, the start-up Go For It Programme, the growth Optimal Programme, the growth Co-Innovate Programme and Start-Up Loans from £500 up to £25k.”

The Hungry Vegan is setting off on the Optimal Programme as part of its ongoing growth.