Major investment at innovative East Yorkshire chemical business

Hundreds of millions of pounds is to be invested at Mitsubishi Chemical UK in Hull to create a new production line that will more than double capacity and create dozens of new jobs.

The site at Saltend Chemicals Park, which opened in 2002, manufactures a grade of Ethylene Vinyl Co-Polymer (EVOH) for the European market under the brand name SoarnoL™. The innovative product is primarily used in packaging to extend the shelf life of food, along with other products in the medical and agricultural sectors.

The Hull facility has seen a steady and significant increase in demand as food manufacturers seek packaging products with a lower environmental impact that can be recycled.

The new plant will be constructed on land directly adjacent to the current facility and is expected to be completed by mid 2025. 

Managing director Peter des Forges said that a significant increase in turnover was forecasted within a few years of the new plant becoming operational, with the majority of the SoarnoL produced being exported to more than 42 countries.

“The potential for this versatile product is phenomenal,” he said. “Its production is low impact, it can be recycled with plastics, and it reduces food waste by keeping products fresher for longer.

“It was always the intention to increase capacity at our site, and the team in Hull working behind the scenes to ensure the plans got the green light are celebrating this fantastic news.

“We are now in our 20th year of manufacturing SoarnoL in Hull and this major investment secures our location in the city for years to come.”

SoarnoL, which mainly comprises carbon, oxygen and hydrogen, is colourless and odourless and used as a barrier layer in food packaging. It preserves flavour and freshness in items such as the protective film on ready meals, squeezy sauce bottles, baby food packaging and meat packaging. Other applications include cosmetic products such as cream and toothpaste tubes, plastic fuel tanks, animal feed and underfloor heating.

The business was formerly owned by Japanese company Nippon Gohsei with Hull being chosen as its location due to proximity to the ports and availability of raw materials from neighbouring businesses at Saltend. It became wholly owned by Mitsubishi Chemical Group in November 2016 and changed its name to Mitsubishi Chemical UK Ltd in April 2021.

The company also has additional facilities on Marfleet Lane which it opened in 2011 to create bespoke grades of SoarnoL.