Northumbrian Fine Foods Ltd (NFF), the UK’s biggest gluten-free biscuit manufacturer, is investing £1.2m in new baking production capabilities.

The £1.2m investment in a new production line will create around 40 new jobs at NFF’s Gateshead facility, taking total employment at the plant to around 200 people.

The company, which also owns the Prewett’s brand, said the investment was the result of “soaring demand” for its biscuits in the free-from sector, which has seen turnover increase by 80% over the last five years.

The new baking oven will increase production capacity at NFF by 40% and will principally focus on the manufacture of indulgent cookies, rotary moulded biscuits and bake bars.

Stewart McLelland, managing director of NFF, said: “This investment is great news for Gateshead and is testament to the hard work of everyone at Northumbrian Fine Foods.

“The new baking oven will play a key role in meeting current demand and also ensure that we can continue to grow the business significantly over the coming years.”

With regard to future expansion, McLelland said: “We are planning further extensions to our range that will focus on everyday favourite biscuits in a variety of formats.”

The new baking oven will become fully operational by September and the recruitment process for new employees has started.

Prewett’s launched a series of social media competitions to highlight Coeliac Awareness Week last month.