The development was the first phase of a two-part project responding to increased demand for cold-pressed rapeseed and coconut oil in the UK and overseas, the company said.
The new bottling line was installed at the company’s Nottinghamshire factory in March. It added automated capping and filling processes to existing automated labelling capabilities, according to the business.
It allows for easy switching between product types for shorter production runs, plus the flexibility to fill bottles containing from 50ml to one litre of oil. Its addition means Phoenix can now fill 1,500 bottles an hour, compared to 350 previously.
Once the second upgrade was completed later this year, adding automated bottle decanter feeds and labelling systems, the line’s capacity would have increased sevenfold over 12 months to 2,200 bottles an hour, said Phoenix.
“This investment matches our ambitions for growth and signals a step change in the scale of contracts we can now deliver for our customers,” said the firm’s production manager, Paul Paveling. “As the biggest player in the cold pressing market, we’re now far ahead of the competition and want to keep building on that.”
Paveling said the company would be introducing double production shifts from this month and would soon be running for 24 hours a day on the new line, increasing output significantly.
Phoenix, which claims to be the UK’s largest producer of cold-pressed seed oils and supplier of white label contract filling, grew its sales by 35% in 2014. It is forecasting a further 50% increase in turnover this year.
Extra 3,000t of seed
With a fourth seed oil press recently installed, the business can now press an extra 3,000t of seed a year – a third more than before. It can also produce 4M litres of oil annually.
The company has also just completed an additional 465m2 warehouse and office extension at its main production site and recently recruited two senior managers to the business.
Future planned investments included upgrading the company’s filtration systems to allow up to 6M litres of oil a year to be processed by 2016, it said.
Phoenix Group is the parent company of Phoenix Speciality Oils and Phoenix Contract Services. Formed in 2007, it supplies 3M litres of expertly-filtered, high-quality oils a year to major retailers across the country for food and non-food uses.