The moulded fibre packaging specialist said the equipment will significantly boost the company’s market share.
The purpose built machinery, which was part of an investment in excess of £5m by the Huhtamaki Group, is also expected to provide a boost in energy efficiency whilst allowing the company to expand its moulded fibre product range.
To date, this has been one of the Huhtamaki Group’s largest single investments within its moulded fibre segment.
Installation of the fully automated and entirely bespoke machine commenced in November 2015 creating twelve new full time jobs. Employee headcount at the plant, which has been manufacturing moulded fibre products such as cup carriers, egg cartons and egg trays for 80 years, is now in excess of 200.
Philip Woolsey, general manager at Huhtamaki Lurgan, said: “This new machinery not only secures jobs, but attracting such significant investment from the wider Huhtamaki Group is also a huge vote of confidence in our staff and their ability to produce a world class product in Lurgan.
“It will enable Huhtamaki Lurgan to achieve future growth in the UK market and to further improve our offering to our customers. It is also one of the largest investments the Group has made on machinery within its molded fiber segment which has a total of 11 plants across four continents.
“This is particularly significant given that we contend with higher energy costs here in the UK than any of our global counterparts. Over the last five years we have improved our energy efficiency by more than 12% and this new machinery will help us to further enhance this.”
Installation of the machinery at the Dollingstown plant, which processes more than 25,000 tonnes of recycled paper every year, also provided employment to over 100 contractors appointed within the local area.
Over 1km of stainless steel pipework was used to supply pulp, water, gas and compressed air to the machine.
Petr Domin, executive vice-president (interim) Huhtamaki Molded Fiber, said: “This new machinery will be significantly more energy efficient than previous technology in the factory, and will save almost 200 tonnes of CO2 annually, which is equivalent to 80 family sized cars travelling 12,000 miles per year.
“Huhtamaki Lurgan is the sole producer of egg cartons and coffee cup carriers in the UK and Ireland, supplying to a number of high profile food retailers such as Tesco, Sainsbury’s and M&S, and this investment is reflective of the plant’s performance in recent years.
“It is estimated that 12.2 billion eggs were eaten in the UK in 2015, and recent data from the Office for National Statistics revealed that 7.2 million cases of eggs were packed in UK egg packaging stations during the first quarter of 2016 which was an increase for the fourth successive quarter.
“The new machinery in our Lurgan plant, and the 25% output increase it facilitates, ensures Huhtamaki remains a key player in the industry. It will also provide the company with the ability to further tailor its products to meet the needs of its customers.”
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