ECONOMY Minister Diane Dodds has announced that packaging manufacturing company Huhtamaki Foodservice Delta is to invest over £2 million in skills development at its west Belfast and Antrim facilities.
Welcoming the investment, the Minister said: “Skills development is not only vital for sustaining business competitiveness, but it is even more essential now as we support business recovery and revive the economy.
“I am committed to ensuring that skills is at the very heart of our economic recovery. I do see opportunity ahead, however, it is essential that our companies and labour market are equipped with the skills and knowledge they need for the journey ahead.
“Huhtamaki is well known globally for its pioneering manufacturing processes and has shown real adaptability during the pandemic by repurposing part of its business to support the manufacture of NHS-approved PPE in partnership with Bloc Blinds.
“Looking forward, it recognises the rapidly growing global demand for sustainable food paper-based packaging and the importance of upskilling its workforce to be able to continue innovation in this area.
“This significant investment across its west Belfast and Antrim facilities will focus on training its staff in using its new machinery to help it capitalise on this niche market.”
The company specialises in the design, printing and manufacturing of printed, folded carton packaging, primarily for fast food and retail outlets including McDonald’s, KFC, Kellogg’s, Nestlé, and Nando’s.
Ciaran Doherty, Huhtamaki UK General Manager, said: “We’ve always recognised that to remain competitive we need to constantly be innovating.
“As part of our growth plans we are aiming to increase our product offering of sustainable, recyclable packaging to include paper wraps, bags and tubs, to support customer demand for packaging.
“To do this, we are upskilling our staff in team management and how to optimise the new machinery. This will help our business to innovate and expand in identified target markets, as we can react quickly to new business opportunities, and boost team morale and confidence.”
Invest Northern Ireland has a long-standing relationship with Huhtamaki as it has grown in Northern Ireland, offering advice and job support – most recently supporting the opening of its Antrim facility and its plans to create 100 new jobs. It has offered the company over £760,000 towards the training of its team.
Kevin Holland, CEO of Invest Northern Ireland, said: “As we look towards rebuilding our economy, it is crucial that businesses can develop the skills they need to remain competitive and to grow.
“Over the years, Invest NI has assisted Huhtamaki as it has built up its presence in Northern Ireland and we are pleased to support the next stage of its growth. By upskilling the team and expanding its product offering, it is investing in its people and in the future of the company.”
Huhtamaki has over 81 manufacturing units and sales offices in 34 countries, including four facilities in Northern Ireland: west Belfast, Antrim, Lisburn and Lurgan.