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A pioneering Hull-based chemical firm is giving manufacturing jobs in the city a boost, following a £1.3m investment assisted by the Humber Local Enterprise Partnership’s Growing the Humber fund.

Nippon Gohsei (UK) Ltd is expanding its manufacturing facility at Marfleet Environmental Technology Park on Hedon Road, following an upsurge in demand for bespoke grades of its world-leading food packaging product Soarnol.

The Japanese owned company has been awarded £125,000 towards the overall expansion cost, from the  £30m allocated to the Humber LEP from the Government’s Regional Growth Fund. As a condition of the grant, it will create five new jobs, bringing the total employed at the site to 16.

The new manufacturing line will double existing production capacity at the 60,000 sq ft Marfleet facility, which was established in 2011 to produce bespoke, compounded grades of Soarnol, a key ingredient in supporting the shift to more sophisticated methods of food packaging. The new jobs are likely to include additional laboratory, engineering and supply chain personnel.

The company, which also operates from Saltend Chemicals Park where it employs 100 staff, shares the Hedon Road site with Neill & Brown Global Logistics, which stores and distributes the product to customers throughout Europe.

Manufactured in cylindrical pellet form, Soarnol is mainly composed of carbon, oxygen and hydrogen and has no toxic gases when burned. Its combustion heat is only half that of polyethylene, causing little harm to the environment.

It is commonly used as a barrier layer in food packaging to preserve flavour and freshness in items such as squeezy mayonnaise and ketchup bottles, baby food packaging, meat packaging, or in the protective film on a ready meal. Other applications include cosmetic products such as cream and toothpaste tubes or in plastic fuel tanks, and underfloor heating.

Site director Peter des Forges said that the expansion reflected an increasing awareness in the product’s potential.

“When Soarnol was first developed, the product was ahead of its time,” he said. “Now we’re finding new uses for the technology all the time.

“Although sophisticated food packaging is still the primary market, this expansion has partly been prompted by the natural growth of innovative applications for the product, from plastic fuel tanks to medical and pharmacological uses.”

He added: “The support from Humber LEP in securing the part funding for this new investment is particularly welcome as it recognises our efforts in growing an innovative manufacturing business and creating new jobs in Hull.”

Nippon Gohsei is the UK’s only producer of Soarnol and one of only two worldwide. It started manufacturing the product at Saltend Chemicals Park in 2004 after being attracted to the area due to its geographical position and the raw materials that could be sourced from BP.