A Wolverhampton-based supplier of rubber products is promising to help the food and drink industry fight back against cheap non-compliant imports after signing an exclusive ‘distribution agreement.’
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MacLellan Rubber has teamed up with a European manufacturer to provide premium grade material to companies producing seals and gaskets for the sector.
Bosses at the firm have seen a general decline in the quality of materials being demanded by buyers, as suppliers endeavour to cut costs throughout their own supply chain, but warn this could have serious financial and legal ramifications down the line for food and drink producers.
The company has therefore taken a stance to only supply products where they are able to trace all the constituent ingredients and to undertake robust testing of compounds according to the Food Contact Regulation EU 1935:2004, 2023/26 and FDA 21 CFR Part 177.
“There has definitely been a decline in the quality of imported rubber sheeting from the Far East and Asia, which independent tests have shown to contain high levels of chemicals that leach from the material or are released when temperatures are raised,” explained Simon Winfield, Director of MacLellan Rubber.
“Many also contain ingredients not on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Association’s approved list and are not compliant with REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals).”
He continued: “Being Food Safe is a legal obligation and manufacturers shouldn’t assume because the material they use is white or blue that it meets this requirement.
“Thanks to the new agreement we have signed, all our Food Grade rubber sheet material is now manufactured within Europe, sourced directly from European compounders and is 100% batch tested with full raw material traceability and compliant to all relevant quality accreditation.
“We have also invested heavily in new stringent controls and pre-production equipment cleaning and all our staff are fully trained and boast significant technical expertise.”
MacLellan Rubber’s turnover increased by £200,000 in 2015, with plans to take this past £3 million by 2017. It is expecting this new manufacturing agreement to open up £500,000 of new opportunities with converters, original equipment manufacturers, fillers and importers. More than 600 tonnes of premium grade rubber is stocked at its distribution centre.
Andrew Onions, Director, went on to add: “Our approach is already paying dividends with £50,000 of new contracts secured with clients in the UK and across mainland Europe. If things go as planned, we will definitely have to create more jobs, with the possibility of adding further apprentices to the three we already employ.”