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UPDATED: A. Schulman opens new masterbatch production site in India

Custom compounder and resin suppler A. Schulman Inc. (Akron, OH) has opened a new plastics masterbatch manufacturing facility in Vadodara, Gujarat, India to supply India's growing flexible packaging, appliance, and consumer products markets.

Annual capacity is projected to be approximately 10,000 tonnes. The plant is strategically located near A. Schulman's customers' manufacturing facilities in western India, as well the Arabian Sea coastline to facilitate faster raw materials shipments. An A. Schulman spokesperson told PlasticsToday that the purpose-built facility covers 12,000 sq m and will employ roughly 30 initially.

Vadodara is A. Schulman's first manufacturing facility in India and its fifth in the Asia-Pacific region, joining existing sites in Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, China, and South Korea. The company has 29 plants globally. Indian customers were previously served with exports from the Indonesian and Malaysian facilities. These sites will now focus exclusively on in-country masterbatch demand for flexible packaging applications.

A. Schulman's masterbatch products include black and white concentrates, in addition to a variety of functional additives, including antifog agents, antislip agents, clarifiers, flame retardants, nucleating agents, UV stabilizers, and more. Brands include Polybatch, Polyclean, PolyPET, Polywhite, and Polyblak.

Asia remains a growth market
A. Schulman's net sales in the Asia Pacific region rose 1.8% in the year ended August 31, 2012, reaching $144.7 million. That growth came despite a reduction in volume of 8.1% compared with the prior-year period. The volume reduction came from restructuring of Australian rotomolding offerings. Gross profit in the region increased to $22.0 million in fiscal 2012, up 27.5% from a year ago, and operating income increased 81.6% to $10.1 million.

Net sales in Asia Pacific for the 2013 fiscal second quarter that were released April 8, were up 6.7% to $2.3 million compared with the same prior-year period. The increase was primarily due to increased price per pound in the masterbatch  and specialty powders segments, according to A. Schulman. Those price increases more than offset a decrease in volume.

"The outstanding performance of the Americas and Asia Pacific regions, coupled with the dedicated efforts of our European team, allowed us to overcome the major challenge of the European economy," Joseph M. Gingo, chairman, president and CEO said in a statement. "We will continue to focus on growth opportunities in the Americas and Asia Pacific while maintaining our leadership position in Europe."

In a 2012 speech to shareholders, S. V. Kabra, chairman of Indian masterbatch supplier Plastiblends India Ltd. pegged the total value of the Indian masterbatch market at $14.8 billion, with the share of the additive masterbatch market at around $3 billion. Kabra said that given estimates that polymer consumption in India expected to grow at annual rate of 15% and the per capita consumption of plastics expected to double over the next 5 years, Plastiblend's business is expected grow at about 20% for the next few years.

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