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Wolverhampton firm offers food and drink sector a solution to non-compliant imports

30 May 2016

A leading Wolverhampton 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. 

MacLellan Rubber, who celebrates 145 years in business in 2016, 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 endeavor 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.

Frustrated by this trend, the company has 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. They need to dig deeper into the supply chain and obtain the necessary documentation and evidence to prove compliance.

“This is where we come into our own. 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, which employs 13 people at its Wednesfield-based facility, 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, with materials available in small, medium and high volume batches and in standard sizes of 1.4 metres wide by 10 metres long, with capabilities up to 2 metres wide x 100 metres long.

Thanks to ongoing investment and high levels of customer service, the company is able to turn around production on new orders within six weeks of the enquiry being taken.

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. This is just the tip of the iceberg we believe.

“As suppliers of raw material, we don’t necessarily supply the food processors themselves, but we are working with them to stress the need for the end user to probe their supplier of gaskets and seals to ensure they meet the latest standards.”

He concluded: “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.”

MacLellan Rubber is a leader in the manufacture and distribution of rubber sheeting, anti-vibration mounts and anti-fatigue and safety matting. In addition to its work with the food and drink industry, the firm also supplies customers in the automotive, power utilities, petrochemical, construction, engineering, marine, mining, rail and transport sectors.

Turnover increased by £200,000 in 2015, with plans in place to take this past £3m by 2017.

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