Kuraray buys Aussie biobased film maker Plantic

Japan-based chemical company Kuraray has acquired Australia’s biobased film maker Plantic Technologies. The acquisition comes after Kuraray became the exclusive distributor for Plantic films in the Japanese and South Korean markets last year.

Kuraray was the first to commercialise the high-performance barrier resin, EVAL (ethylene vinyl alcohol copolymer), which it launched in 1972. EVAL boasts the highest level of gas barrier properties of all plastics and is the market leading barrier resin used in food packaging and industrial barrier applications. In addition Kuraray has developed and launched Kurarister, a transparent barrier film for retort applications.

The acquisition of Plantic enables Kuraray to provide barrier materials which meets the increasing global demand of biobased food packaging materials.

Plantic film is used in a broad range of products in the barrier packaging sector and is supplied to major supermarkets and brand owners on three continents (Australia, North America and Europe) in applications such as fresh case ready beef, pork, lamb and veal, smoked and processed meats, chicken, and fresh seafood and pasta applications. Kuraray expects that its global sales network will assist to develop the biobased barrier business in Europe, US and Asia, responding to the global demand of improved freshness, reduced food loss and waste with the use of environmentally friendly material.

In the Australian market Plantic film is well known and is being used by a major supermarket. In the US, the largest meat consumer country, Plantic has commenced supply to a number of brand owners and retailers and Kuraray will further develop Plantic’s business including the potential establishment of a production base or an alliance with third parties.

In Japan where the demand for extension of shelf life for fresh meat and other fresh food is increasing, Kuraray can assist its customers to reduce food loss and waste. These market developments are expected to expand the biobased barrier material business and Kuraray expects to achieve revenue of JPY10 billion globally over the next 3 years.

In addition there are significant synergies between Kuraray’s existing barrier business and Plantic’s bio-based barrier technology which will drive new applications. Further, Kuraray’s market leading technology and global sales network is expected to accelerate the development and expansion of a barrier material business including Plantic’s technology.

Plantic's proprietary and patented polymer technology is based on the use of high-amylose starch, a material derived from annual harvesting of specialised non-GM (hybrid) cornstarch. Plantic film offers enhanced oxygen impermeability, making it suitable for fresh foods in modified atmosphere packaging (MAP) and vacuum skin pack applications. The formability and heat sealability allows the film to be processed on existing equipment, while its transparency enables visual confirmation of food freshness.


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