Finland-based sustainable packaging provider Huhtamaki has increased its production of smooth-moulded fibre (SMF) packaging in Europe to meet increasing demand for plastic-free food packaging.

As part of this, the company will start manufacturing SMF instead of plastics at its site in Alf, Germany.

SMF is a technologically advanced material that can replace rigid plastics in food packaging applications.

Huhtamaki’s Alf site is expected to produce more than 2,000t of fibre this year.

The advanced automated manufacturing site can produce up to 3.5 billion fibre products a year.

The company claims this will be the first large-scale production of SMF in Europe.

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Huhtamaki fibre foodservice Europe-Asia-Oceania business segment president Eric Le Lay said: “There is a growing demand for sustainable alternatives to plastic packaging for food.

“Our high-precision advanced manufacturing technology enables us to produce fibre lids, trays and other products with superior performance.

“These products dramatically reduce the consumption of plastic – which is mostly fossil fuel-based – whilst continuing to provide the same functionality, including hygiene and safety, which consumers expect.

“Our portfolio of fibre products manufactured in Germany and our expertise in material and manufacturing innovation presents a wide range of sustainable packaging products to help customers deliver on their sustainability agenda and goals.”

Huhtamaki’s Alf facility currently supplies fibre lids and bespoke products to major foodservice and fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) brands.

The company is committed to making all its products recyclable, compostable or reusable by 2030.

In January this year, Huhtamaki acquired full ownership of Huhtamaki Smith Anderson, its Polish joint venture company with UK-based paper bag manufacturer Smith Anderson Group.

Huhtamaki Smith Anderson manufactures and sells foodservice paper bags in Eastern Europe at Huhtamaki’s facility in Czeladz, Poland.

In October last year, Huhtamaki reported net sales of €896.3m ($1bn) for the third quarter (Q3) of the fiscal year 2021 (FY21).