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Johnson Matthey buys atmosphere packaging business StePac

Specialty chemicals and sustainable technologies company Johnson Matthey has acquired StePac Modified Atmosphere Packaging (MAP) business from DS Smith for £18m.

StePac Xtend

The transaction encompasses all assets of StePac, including Xtend packaging.

Johnson Matthey aims to expand its atmosphere control (AC)technologies business with the acquisition.

The AC technologies extend shelf life of fresh produce and thereby reduce wastage.

Stepac’s Xtend modified humidity packaging is available for fruits, vegetables and herbs. It preserves fresh flavour, visual quality and nutritional value for a longer time.

The natural produce respiration of Xtend bag lowers the oxygen concentration inside the bag, resulting in an increase in carbon-dioxide. This controls humidity inside.

StePac has around 90 employees with manufacturing facilities in the US and Israel. Operating across 60 countries, the company reported sales of around £15m last year.

Johnson Matthey CEO Robert MacLeod said: "The acquisition of StePac is an important step in the development of our atmosphere control technologies business.

"The combination of Johnson Matthey’s expertise in advanced materials and StePac’s complementary technical and applications knowledge will enable us to develop new, sustainable technologies for customers in the fresh produce supply chain that prolong shelf life and reduce waste."

Johnson expects to gain from Stepac’s customer base and its intellectual property in the area of polymer-based MAP products.

The company estimates its AC technologies business to generate sales of around £20m in 2015-16.

Image: StePac provides modified atmosphere packaging for fresh produce. Photo: courtesy of Johnson Matthey.