Linpac Packaging is to open a manufacturing site in Belarus by the end of the year creating almost 100 jobs.
The Belarus facility will initially be 100% focussed on expanded polystyrene (EPS) because Russia mainly is an EPS market, said Linpac, who first considered building a factory in Belarus in 2009.
Speaking exclusively to FoodProductionDaily.com, Rene Christiansen, managing director and general manager for northwest Europe, said the plant would have around 80-90 people employed there.
He also said the firm had a contract for a new product relating to the bakery sector of “significant volume” and said it may be a “step change” fronted by the innovations teams in the UK and Germany but said he could not reveal more for the moment.
Speaking about the Belarus site, he said: “The cost to serve the Russian market out of the Poland is just too high, both from a transport but also from an import duty point of view.
“I don’t think we’ll see EPS coming back from Belarus to, for instance Poland again, because of those import duties but it will cover Belarus itself and mainly Russia but also shipping into Ukraine and maybe even some of the Baltic countries.”
He added that the company would be within the import duty zone and it would enable them to be closer to customers.
Christiansen said the most logical place to serve the Dutch market was out of Germany and not out of the UK after a tour of the Ritterhude site.
He said the main benefits of polyethylene terephthalate (PET) over polypropylene (PP) are shelf life so it gives opportunity to distribute products further away, efficiency gains with film sealing and added clarity.
“Plus we expect at some point that the German market will move into PET so we’re ready and our competitors are not.”
The €9m investment mainly in Ritterhude over the last two years, with the launch of the Rfresh Elite range of rPET trays, is hoped to double the firm’s market share in Germany from around 20%.
Customers are demanding low weight and cheaper products, due to price pressure and innovation and innovative packaging to help them sell their product and stand out compared to competitors, he said.
Christiansen said the firm see growth in Poland, Scandinavia and Holland and added he was sure that would come to Germany and the investment meant Linpac would be ready to take advantage.
Meanwhile, Linpac announced two appointments to support its move into the prepared and chilled food packaging sector and launch of its Freshform business.
Rajesh Tandon and Amy Bates have joined the company as business development managers responsible for looking after customers across the sector including processors, packers and retailers.