Finnish company to invest €13.6m in NI paper straw factory
Move will create 100 jobs and will supply McDonald’s
Alastair Hamilton, chief executive of Invest NI; John Park, McDonald’s chief financial officer for UK & Ireland; and Ciaran Doherty, general manager of Huhtamaki Food Services Belfast at the paper straw facility in Antrim
Finnish packaging giant Huhtamaki is to invest £12 million (€13.6 million) in Northern Ireland and create 100 jobs in a new factory that will be the first in Ireland to produce sustainable paper straws.
The Antrim factory will initially produce paper straws primarily for the fast food group McDonald’s which is planning to replace plastic with paper straws in more than 1,300 Irish and UK restaurants this year.
Huhtamaki also plans to expand the range of products manufactured in Antrim to other paper-based product categories.
Ciaran Doherty, general manager of Huhtamaki Food Services Belfast, said the company has had a 30-year relationship with McDonald’s and this latest investment in the North highlights its commitment to innovation.
“Our sustainably sourced paper straws are made with new, purpose-built machinery to deliver a premium product with 100 per cent of paper used in all straws and wrapping, PEFC [Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification] certified.
“Starting with Antrim, Huhtamaki plans to expand its manufacturing capacity into other key markets across Europe and globally,” Mr Doherty said.
The company, which will receive financial support totalling £480,000, towards the cost of its new Antrim facility from Invest NI, already has significant operations across the island of Ireland.
Its long-standing Lurgan factory in the North employs 200 people and it significantly expanded its Northern Ireland business in 2016 when it acquired Delta Print Packaging, which had been privately owned by the Belfast entrepreneur Terry Cross, in an £80 million deal.
Last year it also paid €22 million to acquire a majority stake in Ennis-based CupPrint.
Huhtamak’s latest factory in the North was officially opened on Wednesday by McDonald’s chief financial officer for UK & Ireland, John Park.
Mr Park said the company’s partnership with Huhtamaki was enabling it to act on its customers’ requests to stop using plastic straws.
“We are proud to be doing the right thing in rolling out paper straws across our UK and Irish restaurants, and will continue to invest in making our business as environmentally sustainable as possible – this is just one step on that journey.
“Currently more than 80 per cent of our guest packaging can be recycled, our restaurants use 100 per cent renewable energy and we are continuing to innovate such as the installation of over 1,100 recycling units across our restaurant estate in the UK and Ireland,” he said.