£4.9m investment brings jobs at Huhtamaki

Huhtamaki general manager Philip Woolsey pictured at the Lurgan plant
Huhtamaki general manager Philip Woolsey pictured at the Lurgan plant

Food and drink packaging specialist Huhtamaki is to create 12 new jobs at its Lurgan base as part of a £4.9 million investment in new machinery.

Huhtamaki Lurgan, which employs over 200 people and has been manufacturing molded fiber products such as cup carriers, egg cartons and egg trays for 80 years, is expanding its plant capacity to meet the rapid growth of the egg market in the UK and Ireland.

Installation of the new machinery begins this month with completion expected in early 2016, with recruitment already underway for the 12 new positions.

The new equipment will enable Huhtamaki to expand upon its existing range of products within the molded fiber sector.

“This investment represents a huge vote of confidence in the strength, quality and dedication of our team at the Lurgan plant in what is our 80th anniversary,” said general manager Philip Woolsey.

“We have increased our product range, increased efficiency and improved our customer orientation - now we have the confidence to install new state-of-the-art machinery to enable future growth and further improve our performance for our customers.

“The investment provides a major boost for the local economy, increasing business for local suppliers and creating 12 full-time jobs, as well as more than 80 temporary jobs while the machinery is being installed. We have also increased our warehousing capacity, with a new facility completed and operational.

“Our customers have been growing significantly in recent years, driven by population growth and increased egg consumption per head of capita. A focus on healthy eating and the importance of a good breakfast, along with lower price points, have all been pushing egg sales higher, particularly Free Range.”

Huhtamaki is a global specialist in packaging for food and drink, with 16,700 employees across 69 manufacturing units and 23 sales offices worldwide. The company services clients in three main business areas - foodservice packaging, flexible packaging and molded fiber packaging.

“Despite the challenges faced by manufacturing companies in Northern Ireland in terms of energy prices and logistics, we’ve been able to differentiate ourselves from our competitors, offering real value and service to our customers and generating efficiencies to offset some of the disadvantages of being located in Northern Ireland,” added Mr Woolsey.

Welcoming the investment, Stephen Kelly, CEO of Manufacturing NI, said:

“Manufacturing in Northern Ireland has plenty of good news stories to tell and this investment and job creation by Huhtamaki is certainly one of them.

“For a global company to invest on such a large scale shows the total confidence which it has in the skills base at the Lurgan factory – and the local team should be very proud.

“Investment in new machinery, job creation and the development of new products are key elements of driving forward the manufacturing sector in Northern Ireland and I look forward to the new machine becoming operational.”