Sustainable packaging plan means McDonald’s and KFC wrapper firm to invest in new skills

A Northern Ireland based firm that makes wrappers for fast-food firms including McDonald’s and KFC is skilling up its workforce to make more “sustainable, recyclable packaging”.

Huhtamaki Foodservice Delta, which has plants in West Belfast and Antrim, is to invest over £2million in “skills development” at its local facilities.

Economy Minister, Diane Dodds, made the announcement yesterday.

The Minister said: “Skills development is not only vital for sustaining business competitiveness, but it is even more essential now as we support business recovery and revive the economy. I am committed to ensuring that skills is at the very heart of our economic recovery. I do see opportunity ahead, however, it is essential that our companies and labour market are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need for the journey ahead.

“Huhtamaki is well known globally for its pioneering manufacturing processes and has shown real adaptability during the pandemic by repurposing part of its business to support the manufacture of NHS-approved PPE in partnership with Bloc Blinds. Looking forward, it recognises the rapidly growing global demand for sustainable food paper-based packaging and the importance of upskilling its workforce to be able to continue innovation in this area. This significant investment across its West Belfast and Antrim facilities will focus on training its staff in using its new machinery to help it capitalise on this niche market.”

The company specialises in the design, printing and manufacturing of printed, folded carton packaging, primarily for fast food and retail outlets including McDonald’s, KFC, Kellogg’s, Nestlé, and Nando’s.

Ciaran Doherty, Huhtamaki UK General Manager, said: “We’ve always recognised that to remain competitive we need to constantly be innovating. As part of our growth plans we are aiming to increase our product offering of sustainable, recyclable packaging to include paper wraps, bags and tubs, to support customer demand for packaging.

“To do this, we are upskilling our staff in team management and how to optimise the new machinery. This will help our business to innovate and expand in identified target markets, as we can react quickly to new business opportunities, and boost team morale and confidence.”

Invest Northern Ireland “has offered the company over £760,000 towards the training of its team”.

Kevin Holland, CEO of Invest Northern Ireland, said: “As we look towards rebuilding our economy, it is crucial that businesses can develop the skills they need to remain competitive and to grow. Over the years, Invest NI has assisted Huhtamaki as it has built up its presence in Northern Ireland and we are pleased to support the next stage of its growth. By upskilling the team and expanding its product offering, it is investing in its people and in the future of the company.”

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