Richard Pieters, president of DSM engineering plastics Americas, told PlasticsToday that the Dutch-based company sees a bright future for the North American food packaging industry.
"It's driven by consumer preference, with plenty of growth forecasted in the next coming years," he said. "Food packaging is a highly innovative industry and we want to be a part of that."
The company announced that it will invest in a new polymerization plant in North America to manufacture Akulon polyamide 6 polymer for film grades used in flexible food packaging and other segments. With construction scheduled to start in Q4 2014 and completion targeted for mid-2016, site locations for the plant are currently being evaluated. Pieters said he anticipates the company to announce the location in the new few months.
Being able to add locally produced Akulon polyamide 6 grades for film to the company's North American portfolio puts the company in a good postion for the North American food packaging industry, Pieters said. This new plant is DSM's first polymerization plant for high viscosity grades in North America for Akulon polyamide 6, besides its existing infrastructure in Europe and Asia.
"DSM is very committed to food packaging and this large investment is happening right in North America," he said. "We are growing so much here, that the management board gave us the ability to build the factory, which is a big compliment to the team here."
Another growth area for food packaging is creating solutions to reduce food waste. In North America, about 40 percent of the food loss occurs at retail and consumer levels and DSM believes this is where better packaging can make a difference. Flexible films based on Akulon polyamide 6, with its reportedly strong barrier against oxygen and aromas and mechanical strength and durability, could help to reduce food lost or wasted during its journey from farm to fork.
While the plant will serve North America, Pieters said it could potentially be used to export product to South America as well.
"Shale gas is making it very attractive for growth in North America," he said. "We want to be close to our customers and the cost position in North America is quite favorable."