Packaging giant MeadWestvaco Corporation (MWV) hopes to “differentiate” itself from the rest of the food packaging sector through the opening of its new state-of-the-art R&D plant.
The new $13m pilot plant has begun operations after MWV decided to move its Center for Packaging Innovation (CPI) and the pilot plant from North Carolina to Richmond, Virginia in order to be closer to the company’s global headquarters.
MWV hope the plant’s new close proximity to its headquarters will boost collaboration between colleagues, customers and suppliers, which it hopes will allow it to “tackle bolder innovation projects.”
Through the opening of the new packaging materials and technologies research and development facility, which involved the investment of more than $13m, MWV intends to explore the use of different food packaging materials as well as study the use of polymers and coatings.
“With an emphasis on consumer insights-centric innovation, our CPI –including the pilot plant – provides for a more seamless, robust, stage-gate R&D platform; a system built for true speed to market. We believe this differentiate us from others in our sector,” MWV told FoodProductionDaily.com.
“The pilot plant gives us a convenient middle ground where we can scale projects up a level from some of our smaller R&D and design labs (housed within our headquarters building a few miles away) before moving to commercialisation and the factory floor.”
MWV believe that by combining the new pilot plant with other facilities, it will be able to tackle larger projects while minimising development risk.
“We’d be very surprised if anyone in our sector can claim a pilot plant facility of this size, as comprehensive or with the capacity to conduct such a wide variety array of packaging R&D under one roof,” said the company.
Food packaging innovations
The 48,000 square foot pilot plant includes five labs focussing individually on Materials and Metallurgy Engineering, TAPPI Conditioned Materials Testing, Polymers and Packaging, Paper Science, and Coating.
The relocation of the CPI and the R&D plant has created 114 new jobs over the last two years – 108 in the CPI facilities and 6 in the pilot plant.
The company’s food packaging focus will revolve around the study of different materials including paperboard and the study of polymers and coatings.
“We are working on a number of innovative food packaging solutions; including one for a new kind of packaging for snack foods in a retail setting, and one in the food service arena. Both are in latter stages of development,” MWV added.