"China is currently experiencing substantial growth in the liquid food market and a local presence is mandatory if we are to be part of this opportunity," said Elopak president Bjørn Flatgård. "Elopak is developing strongly with a focus on organic growth within our core segments and increased attention towards innovation, and with this new joint venture we will be able to bring state of the art technology and solutions into the Chinese market."
Flatgård believes that the establishment of a subsidiary in China is crucial if the company is to respond more efficiently to customer requests and significantly improve service and delivery times to the Chinese market.
The first phase of the investment will be in a manufacturing plant that will supply a range of products and services to Chinese customers. The manufacturing plant will print and convert materials for beverage cartons using state of the art technology and have a capacity of about 700 million cartons a year.
The principle product will be Pure-Pak cartons that are formed and filled at the customers' location, using Pure-Pak filling equipment for fresh milk, aseptic juices and speciality products.
Elopak claims to be one of the world's leading suppliers of packaging systems for liquid food products. It develops, manufactures and sells complete systems for packaging of non-carbonated liquid food products. In 2002, the company, employing 2,000 staff excluding joint ventures, had a turnover of approximately €487 million. As a full systems supplier with organisations and associates in more than 40 countries and customers in over 100, the Elopak Group is seeking to expand its international reach by bringing product technology to new markets.
The new investment in China is a joint venture with the Japanese company Nippon Paper-Pak and Elopak is the majority shareholder with 75 per cent. This venture extends the existing relationship of over 10 years between Elopak and Nippon Paper-Pak, through Nippon Paper-Pak's licensee for Elopaks Pure-Pak carton in Japan.
This is the latest example of western food packagers and processors turning their heads to the Chinese market. Yesterday, FoodProductionDaily.com reported that both Cargill and Danisco were keen to expand their xanthan gum manufacturing capabilities in the country. Danish ingredients group Danisco, for example, agreed a joint venture with one of the largest xanthan gum suppliers in China, the Henan Tianguan group while Cargill intends to build a state-of-the-art analytical laboratory, a new wastewater treatment plant and a number of process modifications to improve its plant operating efficiencies.