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Fuling sets the table with new China factory

Kent Miller | PLASTICS NEWS CHINA

Nasdaq-listed Chinese plastic tableware maker Fuling Global Inc. has opened a new factory in China, its fourth there, as part of a plan to double its production capacity within three years.

The new 600,000-square-foot factory at its headquarters in Wenling, Zhejiang province, will boost the company's output by more than 30 percent this year, the company predicted.

The company said in a June 5 statement that construction of an additional 400,000-square-foot expansion at the site will begin in the first half of next year.

Fuling, which says it's one of China's largest exporters of plastic tableware, acquired the 33.27-acre parcel, which is less than 10 miles from a port at Longmen, in April 2016 and began construction two months later.

"The new facility will allow us to more than double our annual production capacity in the next three years, preparing us for future growth and transformation in years to come," said CEO Xinfu Hu. "We couldn't produce enough to meet growing demand for our products in recent quarters due to capacity constraints."

In addition to the four Chinese factories, all in Zhejiang province, Fuling has a North American factory in Allentown, Pa., and distribution centers in Allentown, Los Angeles, Toronto and Vancouver. The 88,000-square-foot Allentown factory makes drinking straws, which are costly to ship from China.

Fuling specializes in disposable plastic tableware, including cutlery, drinking straws, cups and plates. Most are made from polypropylene and polystyrene. The company also plans to make more packaging materials.

Fuling has more than 100 customers in the United States and Europe, including Subway, Wendy's, Burger King, Taco Bell, Wal-Mart and McKesson. The company also supplies KFC restaurants in China.

The company has more than 1,500 employees worldwide, nearly 100 of whom work in R&D. Current research focuses on bioplastics such as polybutylene succinate, polylactic acid and cellulose.

In its latest financial filing, Fuling saw its first quarter sales leap 28 percent to $26.3 million. Rising oil prices tamped down gross profit 2.3 percent to $5.1 million, compared to the first quarter of 2016.

For the year ending Dec. 31, total sales increased by $13.6 million, or 14.9 percent, to $104.9 million. The United States was easily Fuling's top market, with $94.9 million in sales for the year.

The company traces its founding to 1992, as Taizhou Fuling Plastics Co., Ltd. Fuling began producing disposable tableware in 2003 and became listed on Nasdaq in 2015.

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