Vifan Canada Inc. has added more layers to an already-massive expansion that could make the company a bigger player in the North American market for biaxially oriented polypropylene film.
The firm said in July that it would install a five-layer coextrusion line and add about 100,000 square feet to one of two BOPP film plants in Lanoraie, Quebec, or Morristown, Tenn. Vifan said it would consider a second line once that work was completed.
Now the company has decided to install both lines, said Andrew Wick, Vifan North American marketing director, in a Nov. 5 interview at Pack Expo International 2002 in Chicago.
``We're No. 2 in the world for OPP film, but in North America, we're only the third- or fourth-largest company,'' said Wick, based at Vifan's North American headquarters in Lanoraie. ``Everyone knows us in Europe, but we have a minimal level of recognition here right now.
``After this expansion, people will know us here, too.''
The three-year, $180 million project will add about 110 million pounds of BOPP film capacity in North America, close to doubling the company's film capacity there, he added.
Globally, the Italian company currently makes 330 million pounds of BOPP film a year.
The company still is deciding which plant will get the first new line and which will get the second, but construction is to begin this year, Wick said. The first five-layer coextrusion line will be installed over the next 18 months.
Both 26-foot machines should be operational within 36 months, according to Wick. Each machine costs about $80 million, he said.
The company is adding 100,000 square feet to both facilities. The Quebec plant currently has about 125,000 square feet, while the Tennessee facility has 325,000 square feet.
The company's film is used for confectionary items, snack foods, bag liners for pet foods, and labels for beverage and food products. New markets include overwraps for compact discs and digital versatile discs and clear printed labels for containers, Wick said.
A growth area has been the use of liners for candy bars and other snack-food products. With a growing emphasis on health and security, the liners increase the comfort level for consumers wanting a germ-free food product, Wick said.
The market is growing about 5 percent annually but only a few companies worldwide make the specialty film. In North America, major players now include the film division of ExxonMobil Chemical Co., Applied Extrusion Technologies Inc. and Inteplast Group Ltd.
Vifan is considering more expansion once its current undertaking is complete. With several customers eyeing Latin America for growth, Vifan is starting to look at Mexico for plant opportunities, Wick said.
The company is owned by Vibac Finanziara SpA of Alessandria, Italy. Vifan has been in North America more than 25 years and has made BOPP films in North America for the past decade, Wick said.