ANNUAL REPORT
Original perspective

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 small calibre sausage production industry requires products with extremely high quality features at competitive prices, in order to make the large scale production of sausages possible. Responding to this demand implicitly requires an enormous technological and developmental challenge that Viscofan successfully meets as the largest supplier of cellulose casings for hot-dog-style sausages and one of the main suppliers of edible collagen for a wide variety of regional specialities.

In the large calibre range, used in dry, boiled and delicatessenstyle sausages, the company responds by developing customised solutions to meet demands from manufacturers around the world. An extensive variety of collagen films, reinforced fibrous casings and plastic structures make it possible to reach the demanding and diverse world market with its enormous variety of classic and innovative meat products: sliced, pre-smoked, boiled, cured, etc.

For this reason, Viscofan takes the view that its leading position in the highly competitive world market can only be sustained by cutting-edge efforts in R&D and innovation 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, creating value for all of its stakeholders.

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 on 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 means that Research and Development units are structured into teams that specialise in each process and casing type. The average staff headcount is 60. 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.

There is a technological spin-off from the centres with technology development units, both for products and processes, to the rest of the group’s plants. The aim is to harmonise and standardise production standards at world level, based on the most advanced concepts and processes both in terms of manufacturing technologies and in the philosophies of control, quality and product characteristics that have made Viscofan what it is today.

At present there are several 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.On-going and completed research and development projects focus mainly on:

  • Development of various products, new agreements with the target markets defined in the expansion plan, and new generation creations designed and aimed at offering customers products that stand out due to their performance and characteristics.
  • Development of active and functional casings capable of transferring properties or functionalities to the meat product processed in them.
  • The development of production alternatives through technological breakthroughs which allow an increase in added value or significantly reduce production costs for artificial casings through modernisation, streamlining and simplification, improving Viscofan’s competitiveness.
  • Research into raw materials, focused on the development of technological processes that make it possible to expand the range of materials suitable for manufacturing casings.
  • Technological support for improving existing products and processes, and the international expansion of the company; all compliant with Viscofan technological and quality standards and current regulations, as well as for optimisation of production costs.

SUPPORT FROM INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH CENTRES

Viscofan regularly collaborates with research centers and universities, public and private, in Spain, USA, Germany and China to foment specialization and gain access to cutting-edge technologies it needs to carry on its research and development activity.

Besides the aforementioned collaboration with research centers, Viscofan has significant support from local governments bodies of the countries in which the group makes developments on R&D, both the center for technical industrial development (CDTI) in Spain, such others specific from local administration in Navarre, as in Germany (Federal Ministry of Education Research), USA and Brazil.

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. Among these associations are:

  • Comité Internationale de la Peliculle Cellulosique (CIPCEL). Based in Brussels, CIPCEL comprises the leading producers of regenerated cellulose film products.
  • Collagen Casing Trade Association (CCTA). Also based in Brussels, CCTAA comprises the leading producers of collagen casings.
  • 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 technology centre based in Spain that provides support for the research and development carried out by its members, mainly in the areas of quality, food safety, sustainability, environment and design and industrial production.
  • ANICE. The Spanish Meat Industry Association is the largest meat association in Spain and advises, represents and defends the interests of the meat industry.

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