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Freshasia to create 50 Norfolk jobs with new dumpling factory

PUBLISHED: 06:00 02 October 2015

Chinese food producer, Freshasia, is opening new manufacturing premises in Little Melton, near Norwich, thanks to support from NatWest and Lombard.
Freshasia owner Calvin Lan (front) with, left to right, George Nobbs (leader, Norfolk County Council), Nicola Barker (NatWest), Katie Whitmore (Lombard), Carl Baker (RS Baker & Sons), John Fuller (Leader of South Norfolk Council and Chairman of New Anglia LEP Food, Drink and Agriculture Sector Group) and Chris Starkie (New Anglia LEP).

Chinese food producer, Freshasia, is opening new manufacturing premises in Little Melton, near Norwich, thanks to support from NatWest and Lombard. Freshasia owner Calvin Lan (front) with, left to right, George Nobbs (leader, Norfolk County Council), Nicola Barker (NatWest), Katie Whitmore (Lombard), Carl Baker (RS Baker & Sons), John Fuller (Leader of South Norfolk Council and Chairman of New Anglia LEP Food, Drink and Agriculture Sector Group) and Chris Starkie (New Anglia LEP).

Copyright © Keith Whitmore

Norfolk's reputation as the inventor of the humble dumpling remains a proud moment in its culinary history.

But this long-held association will soon take on an Asian twist, after a businessman announced plans to open a new factory in the county – making the Norfolk dumpling’s popular Chinese cousin.

Freshasia plans to create more than 50 jobs by opening a dumpling plant at Little Melton in South Norfolk.

The company – which already produces dumplings, steamed buns, dim sum and sliced meat at a factory in Kent– has taken the bold step to keep up with the demand for its products across Europe.

The owner of Freshasia, Jian Li, known as Calvin Lan, said the move would be a launchpad for creating new products.

“We spent a long time searching for the right premises and although this one will involve a lot of work, it was a food factory before so fundamentally the function and design is right,” he said.

“Once we have the production expansion in place, we can then focus on market development and the creation of new and exciting products, as well as meeting the demands of the marketplace during periods of peak trading.”

Freshasia was launched six years ago as Calvin looked to capitalise on the growing demand for authentic Chinese meals which could be cooked in the microwave in less than two minutes.

Since then, the businessman – who previously owned two Asian supermarkets –has revealed his intent to break into the ready-meal market with Chinese rice-based dishes.

The move into the Norfolk factory – a formed lamb-packing plant – was joint funded by a multi-million package put together by Natwest bank, Lombard Asset Finance and RBS Invoice Finance, coupled with £400,000 of support from New Anglia’s Growing Business Fund and a further £200,000 loan from Finance East. It will be one of the largest dumpling factories in Europe.

Chris Starkie, managing director of New Anglia LEP, said: “Freshasia’s decision to locate their second factory in Norfolk demonstrates that we have the right environment to support growing businesses and attract inward investment.”

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