Winpak Ltd. has expanded its barrier packaging technology by acquiring the MAP Fresh barrier tray division of Clear Lam Packaging Inc. of Elk Grove Village, Ill., for undisclosed terms.
The Dec. 31 deal was inked less than two weeks after Winpak said it would begin test-marketing shrink bags for meat, under an agreement with Japan's Asahi Kasei Life and Living Corp.
The MAP Fresh deal includes tooling, thermoforming equipment and a ``strong customer base'' for case-ready fresh meat, Winnipeg, Manitoba-based Winpak said in a Jan. 21 news release. Winpak President and Chief Executive Officer Bruce Berry said his firm had a project under way to get into barrier trays for fresh meat when it decided that purchasing the business from Clear Lam was an effective way to become a significant player quickly.
Clear Lam President and owner Jim Sanfilippo said the MAP Fresh business was nonstrategic and Clear Lam needs the space to pursue its other thermoforming activities. Those include modified-atmosphere thermoformed trays for snacks and home-meal replacements, and polylactic acid trays for produce and bakery goods. Clear Lam has installed several new machines for its push in core thermoforming markets, he said in a phone interview.
MAP Fresh trays are made of thermoformed polypropylene sheet with an ethylene vinyl alcohol barrier layer. Meat is put in the trays at the packing house, eliminating the need for meat cutting and packaging in a supermarket. The packaging creates a modified atmosphere to help meat stay fresh longer. Berry said the technology cuts costs, and U.S. demand has been driven in large part by Wal-Mart Stores Inc. Winpak wants to extend the technology this year to precooked meals and processed meat.
Winpak already makes extruded PP barrier sheet at its Chicago plant. The firm will produce MAP Fresh packaging there.
Regarding shrink bags, Winpak will begin production at an unspecified time if market testing proves successful. Berry said the firm would make the bags in Winnipeg or at one of two plants it runs near Atlanta.
Sanfilippo forecast his firm's sales will reach $120 million this year. Flexible packaging films are its biggest business, accounting for nearly 70 percent of sales. Thermoforming is about 25 percent of sales, followed by semi-rigid films for form/fill/seal applications and equipment for modified-atmosphere packaging.