Tasma, an 80-year-old Russian producer of technical industrial films which supported the USSR war effort during World War II, has assumed a new role as an extruder of barrier food packaging film.
Following doubts over the financial future of the business, the firm, which previously specialized in making X-ray, defense and aerospace films, invested 6.3 million euros ($7.9 million) in its latest project to launch new shrinkable multilayer ‘Mealguard' packaging films at a plant in Kazan, Tatarstan.
The new plant is located in the Khimgrad Technology Park for SME businesses at the heart of the Tatarstan petrochemicals cluster. Partially funded by Russia's Sberbank banking group, the unit features an Italian supplied GAP 48 linear meters per year triple bubble film extrusion line. Tasma has production space to accommodate up to four similar lines.
Production of the multilayer film for packaging fresh and processed foods, for storage up to 60 days and in some cases, for cook-in pouch application, represents new technology for Russia.
During its first year of operation, the Tasma plant will import raw materials from Germany, Italy and Israel. But in the future, the firm expects to receive its polymers directly from the Russian producers Kazanorgsintez and Nisknekamskneftekhim.
Tasma aims to capture a Russian market share of 8 percent to 1- percent with its new products worth around 6.8 million euros ($8.5 million), substituting European and other foreign imports. Replacing packaging imports is significant for Russia today in the face of international trade sanctions over Ukraine.
Today, the market for shrinkable multilayer barrier packaging in Russia is reported to be worth around 76.5 million euros ($95.9 million) and is expected to rise to almost 102 million euros ($127.9 million) by 2020.
Tasma employees have been retrained and now represent a proportion of the 35-strong high technology workforce at the new facility, which was officially opened by Rustam Minnikhanov, president of the Tatarstan semi-autonomous republic.
Following the inauguration, Tasma signed a deal to supply its new packaging to the poultry farming business of the Russian bank and holding group AK Bars.