Winpak Ltd. will spend C$35 million (US$25.4 million) during the next five years to boost its stake in modified atmosphere packaging.
The firm's board of directors recently approved the investment for its headquarters plant in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Winpak President J. Robert Lavery said in a telephone interview.
The expansion includes adding an eight-color, flexographic printing press by late 1997, a new cast-film coextrusion line by fall 1998, a new blown film line by 2000 and upgrading existing film lines.
Rounding out the program will be new slitters and auxiliary equipment during the next few years, and a 44,000-square-foot addition this summer to boost plant space by about 22 percent.
Lavery said some details are confidential, while others still are being worked out in trials among equipment suppliers and affiliated Winpak companies in Europe.
He said Winnipeg is a good location for his firm's thrust into modified atmosphere packaging. The facility has a good technology base, a dedicated work force and is close to some major MAP markets in the midwestern United States. Two key markets, cheese and meat, are big industries in states south of Canada's Manitoba province. Winnipeg also can easily supply other MAP markets in North America, he added.
Winpak was little affected by massive spring flooding from North Dakota to Winnipeg, according to Lavery. The worst impact has been washed-out highways in Manitoba and North Dakota, which can add 100 miles to truck journeys because of detours, he said.
Meanwhile, Winpak will install its first dedicated polypropylene sheet and thermoforming line as scheduled, he said. Its Winpak Portion Packaging Inc. subsidiary will start commercial production on the line at South Chicago Heights, Ill., by year-end, he said. The line will extend Winpak Portion's product line to include larger dairy cups, dipping cups for fast-food restaurants and other new products.
Winpak recorded sales of C$66.1 million (US$47.9 million) for the first quarter ended March 31. Profit was C$2.4 million (US$1.74 million).