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R&D AND INNOVATION


Viscofan’s products look simple and are simple to use. This belies the sophisticated technology underlying the manufacturing process which only a few companies worldwide have developed.

The cold meat production sector requires high performance products at very competitive costs, in order to enable large scale production. Responding to this demand implies a huge technological and development challenge that Viscofan performs successfully as the major casing supplier, using the four most common materials that are currently available in the market: cellulose, collagen, fibrous and plastic.

AT PRESENT, THERE ARE STRATEGIC PRODUCT AND TECHNOLOGY DEVELOPMENT PROJECTS ACROSS THE ENTIRE CASINGS RANGE IN PROGRESS (CELLULOSE, COLLAGEN, FIBROUS AND PLASTIC CASINGS), AS WELL AS OTHER DIVERSIFICATION PRODUCTS AIMED AT DEVELOPING APPLICATIONS THAT EQUIP VISCOFAN WITH THE PRODUCT RANGE REQUIRED TO REINFORCE ITS PRESENCE IN THE WORLD MARKET.

Therefore, Viscofan takes the view that its leading position in the highly competitive world market can only be sustained by cutting-edge efforts in research and development of its technology and products. Only through the application of this philosophy will Viscofan be able to continue advancing in its leadership of innovation in the global artificial casings market, benefiting all of its stakeholders.

Constant innovation required by our globalised world must be taken into account. The products of Viscofan must be compatible with the food habits and uses of millions of world consumers, their preferences and evolution over time. Viscofan couples its growth as a business with the development of its innovation capability so that it can access the best technologies available in the market, implement them and improve them, and develop its own technologies to create an enduring competitive edge.

The complexity of Viscofan’s production process and the sophisticated technology underlying its products mean that research and development units are structured into teams specialised by casing type, mainly at centres of excellence (i.e. sites that stand out due to their management, proactivity, service, knowledge, productive quality innovation and are a reference of best practices for the rest of production sites of the company). R&D staff comprises 135 employees across the Group. The corporate research and development centre in Spain coordinates and supports the specific research and development activities conducted at each production plant, and coordinates the multidisciplinary teams which exchange best practices, technological knowledge and ideas across product sites.

Technology is transferred from centres with technology development units for both products and processes to all the Group’s facilities. The goal is to harmonise and standardise production standards worldwide, based on the most advanced concepts and processes relating to both manufacturing technologies and philosophies of control, quality and product features that have made Viscofan what it is today.

On-going and completed Research, Development and Innovation projects focus mainly on:
  • The development of new products according to the target markets defined in the expansion plan, and new generation implementations, designed and oriented towards offering customers products with differential performance and features.
  • The development of active casings that are able to confer functionalities to the meat product they contain.
  • The development of production alternatives and technological solutions through radical breakthroughs which allow an increase in added value or significantly reduce production costs for meat casings through modernisation, streamlining and simplification, improving Viscofan’s competitiveness.
  • Research in the area of raw materials aimed at developing technological processes that enable an adequate range of materials to manufacture casings.
  • Technological support for improving existing products and processes, and for the Company’s international expansion, all this adhering to Viscofan’s technological and quality standards and current regulations, as well as the optimisation of production costs.

Support from international research centres

Viscofan has a long track record of working with Spanish and international public and private research centres in different countries. Notable in Spain: The University of Navarra, the Public University of Navarra, the Multidisciplinary Centre of Technology for Industry (CEMITEC), the National Centre for Technology and Food Safety (CNTA), the Plastics Technology Centre (AIMPLAS) and the Agricultural and Food Technological Centre (AINIA).

At international level, the following collaborations should be noted: the University of South Carolina (USA); MORE Institute Research, Hochschule Manheim and the Fraunhofer Institute (Germany); and the University of Suzhou (China). 

THE PRINCIPAL ISSUES ON WHICH THESE COLLABORATIONS ARE BASED ARE: FOOD SAFETY, ANALYSIS AND DEVELOPMENT OF NEW MATERIALS, PROCESS AND FOOD INDUSTRY ENGINEERING, ADVANCED PHYSICAL AND CHEMICAL ANALYSIS, BASIC RESEARCH ON MATERIALS AND ALTERNATIVE USES AND OTHER PACKAGING SYSTEMS.

Moreover, Viscofan is importantly supported by the different administrations of the countries where it develops R&D activities, for example: the Centre for Technical Industrial Development (CDTI) and the Spanish Ministry for the Economy and Competitiveness (MINECO), the Federal Ministry of Education Research in Germany and other entities in Brazil and Mexico.

Viscofan plays an active role in the artificial casings industry and is, therefore, involved in several industry associations and groups that seek to cooperate towards enhancing the industry’s contribution to the community. These institutions include:

 ● Comité International de la Peliculle Cellulosique (CIPCEL). Based in Brussels, comprises the leading producers of regenerated cellulose film products.

 ● Collagen Casing Trade Association (CCTA). Also based in Brussels, comprises the leading producers of collagen casings worldwide.

 ● Centro Español de Plásticos (CEP). This is the Spanish association of entities relating to the manufacture and processing of plastics.

 ● Gelatin Manufacturers of Germany (GMG). An organisation of German gelatin producers.

 ● AINIA. Food Technological Centre based in Spain that supports R&D of its partners, specially in the areas of quality, food safety, sustainability, environment, design and industrial production.

 ● ANICE. The Spanish National Association of the Meat Sector is the biggest meat association in Spain to give advise, represent and defend the sector’s interests.

 ● National Centre for Technology and Food Safety (CNTA), the purpose of which is to provide advanced technological services to improve competitiveness in the food sector through quality and innovation and under the principle of food safety.

 ● AIMPLAS. The Plastics Technology Centre offers integral solutions to companies within the plastic sector through the technical implementation of R+D+i projects.

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