Capable of filling up to 3 million cans a week, the new line is set to increase overall production capacity at the site by more than 10%.
The line is able to pack cans in three different sizes, using four different types of filler – providing enhanced control over ingredient additions. Product trials are now underway, with the new line expected to be fully operational this month.
Princes, Branston, Batchelors and own-label
Long Sutton is the group’s largest food production site in the UK, producing peas, pulses, beans, fruits and ready meals for Princes, Branston, Batchelors and customers' own labels.
The development programme at the site represents Princes’ largest ever capital investment into its UK manufacturing facilities, which has also included the opening of a new pea plant in 2019 and the completion of new staff welfare facilities, a canteen and improved office spaces for employees. Additionally, Princes recently installed a new raw material warehouse and handling facility, hydrostat cooker and ingredients processing kitchen as part of the project.
The site is one of the largest employers in the area, and its operations support hundreds of regional jobs in businesses and industries that provide raw materials and services. As a result of the upgrade, more than 50 new employees joined the Princes Group at Long Sutton in 2020.
Ruth Simpson, group director of foods and marketing at Princes, said: “We are delighted to be at this exciting stage of our £80m investment programme at Long Sutton, with joint commissioning of a new canning line, hydrostat cooker and ingredients processing kitchen now underway. Through increasing efficiencies and boosting production, this development programme is a crucial part of our ongoing efforts to future-proof the site and provide high quality employment opportunities in the area for years to come.
'The final milestones'
“Thanks to the hard work of our incredible team at Long Sutton, we have overcome various obstacles due to COVID-19 – doing all we can to meet increased customer and consumer demand for our products, while progressing construction work on-site. Despite these challenges, we remain on track and we’re looking forward to reaching the final milestones in this important project over the next few months.”
Further planned investment includes the installation of a new soft water plant and anaerobic digester, which processes waste into biodegradable material, and the implementation of a new IT system.
Throughout the pandemic, the dedication of key workers at Long Sutton and Princes’ other UK manufacturing sites has played a crucial role in meeting spikes in customer and consumer demand and supporting charities in their efforts to feed the nation.
The company shared some of its products during the initial lockdown between sites to ensure those working shift patterns were able to take these products home rather than needing to visit a supermarket.