Smurfit Welcomed to Eastern Bay

Wednesday 21 Jul 2021

Smurfit Welcomed to the Eastern Bay Business Community - With the welcome announcement in the past few months that Whakatane’s workers jobs would be saved by Smurfit, to invest in the Whakatāne Board Mill, the new employer has been welcomed by the Eastern Bay business community.

GIS, the previous (and largest) employer in Whakatāne SIG had put their workers’ futures at risk of being permanently shutteredso the Smurfitt news was welcomed by not only the pulp and paper sector, but also by the broader community. Employing 213 staff and over 50 direct contractors this means many families will be sleeping better at night.

Toi EDA General Manager, Karl Gradon, says that the flow on effects from this announcement are great news for the entire region, with a significant boost to local confidence, which is already strong. Not only will this retain some of the best skilled staff in the region, but it will also likely mean investment in the mill to bring it to the modern and global scale that most Smurfit factories are renowned for. Toi EDA looks forward to working alongside Smurfit to ensure that their investment is a success for the region and for the investors.

Mr Gradon did however, express caution that while this is good news, there are still clouds on the horizon with the fibre processing sector. China has announced self-sufficiency in logs by 2035, which creates significant risk for the forestry sector. The majority of New Zealand logs are exported to developing countries in their raw form in anticipation of their domestic logs becoming available in just a few years. Toi EDA encourages the government to work on policy that incentivises investment in added value processing in New Zealand, rather than shipping the value creation offshore.

Employing 46,000 staff globally, in 35 countries, Smurfit is claiming global leadership in fibre based, environmentally friendly, packaging under their “Better Planet Packaging” initiatives. The future is bright for the environmental outcomes as a result of this acquisition. Strong demand for alternatives to plastic packaging are driving significant growth for the company, according to their recent global results announcement.

Source: Toi-EDA

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