ALTONA, AUSTRALIA — Australian bio-based barrier film developer Plantic Technologies Ltd. has been sold to a Japanese barrier film manufacturer.
The deal opens the bio-based barrier film sector to Tokyo-based Kuraray Co. Ltd. and gives Altona-based Plantic a wider reach in the global packaging market.
Plantic CEO and Managing Director Brendan Morris told Plastics News the acquisition is a positive step for both companies. He will not name the purchase price. Plantic was owned by a Brisbane-based private investment company, Gordon Merchant No. 2 Pty. Ltd.
Plantic, which manufactures packaging trays for fresh meat, seafood, poultry and pasta, launched in 2001 to commercialize intellectual property developed by a government-funded research group, the Cooperative Research Center for International Food Manufacture and Packaging Science.
Plantic's high-barrier food trays are made from corn starch lined with polyethylene, polypropylene or PET, depending on the sealing layer required. The trays use 80 percent renewable materials and have longer shelf lives because of their gas barrier properties.
Plantic manufactures in Altona, southwest of Melbourne, Australia, and has a thermoforming plant and sales center in Germany, and sales offices in the United Kingdom and the United States.
“We are very excited by the purchase. We don't see it as a takeover or being swallowed by a larger organization. We see it as an opportunity to further develop our brand and take it onto a much wider global market,” Morris said.
“The acquisition takes Plantic from being a medium-level player in the market to being part of one of the largest resin and barrier manufacturers and developers in the world.”
Plantic employs 70, and Kuraray President Masaaki Ito confirmed that Plantic's management, company structure and operations will remain in place.
“This gives Kuraray greater exposure to bio-based products and environmentally friendly materials. But, importantly for us, it gives us access to Kuraray's enormous research and development capabilities,” Morris said.
“Their interest in us is a real validation of what we are doing [in Australia] and what we have achieved in the past 14 years.”
Morris said Brisbane-based private investor Gordon Merchant has been involved with Plantic since its 2001 launch. He listed it on the Australian Stock Exchange in 2007 and privatized it in 2010.
Kuraray has been in barrier film since 1972 and operates in 17 countries.
“Our technology is bio-based, theirs is petrochemical based. We were competitors, but now have complementary products within the Kurary range,” Morris said.
Morris said Kuraray began distributing Plantic products in Japan and South Korea in late 2012 and “a relationship has developed since then.”
“They became more interested in our product once they saw its capabilities.”
Morris said the sale is proof that Australia can develop world-leading technology.
Plantic's 2015 sales are expected to be about US$25 million. Its customer base is throughout Australia, North America and Europe.