Economy Minister Diane Dodds has announced that packaging manufacturing company Huhtamaki Foodservice Delta is to invest over £2million in skills development at its West Belfast and Antrim facilities.

Welcoming the investment during a visit to the former Deltaprint operation at Kennedy Way, 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."

The Economy Minister said the investment would be utilised in the West Belfast and Antrim plants to train staff on new machinery to help Huhtamaki capitalise on the niche sustainable food paper-based packaging  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."

Invest NI CEO Kevin Holland said the investment would help rebuild the Covid-battered economy. "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.”