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Films processor wraps R&D around sausages

February 1, 2008

3 Min Read
Films processor wraps R&D around sausages

Atlantis-Pak’s wide range of meat casings continues to expand, with the processor placing an increased emphasis on R&D and new product development.Continual gravimetric dosing equipment from Mann+Hummel feeds up to five layers’ worth of granulate to this barrier sausage-casing line.

Sausages are a favorite food in Russia, and the casings market is increasingly defined by technically advanced extrusions. A case in point is provided by Atlantis-Pak (Rostov, Russia), and its high-end, export-heavy product portfolio.

The Atlantis-Pak name was acquired by current ownership in 1993 following the bankruptcy of a film processor of the same name in Eastern Germany, just four years after the fall of the Berlin Wall. Then, the operation included just two extrusion lines for monolayer polyamide (PA) film. The first casings developed by the new owners in their new facility in Russia were branded Amipak, and were another monolayer PA casing, but the first plastic casing for frankfurters offered in Russia. Within one year, 45% of all frankfurters sold in Russia included the casing.

Then in 1998 the processor, in what was a first for the Russian market, developed its 5-layer Amiflex barrier casings, processed from PA and polyolefins and giving its customers—by now including ones in Western Europe—the option to extend their products’ shelf life. Introduced last year were 7-layer EVOH-based casings destined for export markets, as so far the Russian market has shown relatively little demand for long-storage-life foods, according to Sergey Vlaskin, the processor’s technical manager. Also new are barrier plastic casings with the mesh already attached to the surface rather than being offered separate of the casing.

In addition to sausage skins, the company converts shrink packaging for lunchmeats and cheeses, plus, since 2004, has its own stable of flexographic printing machines for labeling so that customers need not look elsewhere for labels. The flexographic printing equipment can use both solvent-type and UV–curable inks in up to eight colors. Continuing this vertical integration, in 2005 Atlantis-Pak started to produce ingredients and spices for sausage fillings. Now, Atlantis-Pak claims a 45% share of Russia’s market for barrier sausage casings, 30-35% of the monolayer skins’ market, and 15% of that for smoked meats.

According to Vlaskin, the firm now offers 12 brands (30 distinct types) of plastic casing to customers in more than 50 countries and employs 2500, with annual sales exceeding $100 million— making it one of the top-10 global processors of meat casings. Its international reach is helped by three additional facilities in Russia plus sales offices in Kiev, Ukraine and Miami, FL. The processor’s machinery manifest has been completely updated, with extruders sourced from a German manufacturer (which the processor requests remain unidentified), and dosing and compounding machines from Mann+Hummel ProTec (Bensheim, Germany). The processor manufactures its own film winding and conversion machinery, says Vlaskin. Atlantis-Pak is ProTec’s largest customer in the area, according to Mann+Hummel Business Manager (dosing technology) Rainer Riediger, who was at the processor during MPW’s visit. Mann+Hummel’s cooperation with Atlantis-Pak began in 1996 with dosing equipment for the processor’s first multilayer extrusion line and to date includes auxiliary equipment for 12 extrusion lines, plus complete software controls. Vlaskin says the control software has helped him add new lines without raising payroll, and that the dosing and compounding equipment is flexible enough so that even small-lot processing remains profitable.

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