WTO ruling kills cigarette printing

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has upheld Australia’s plain packaging laws for cigarettes, killing the possibility of the print work returning to the country.


With the ban being upheld by the WTO, there is zero chance of cigarette packaging printing returning to Australia, as the higher-end finishing and print work previously seen has been replaced by uniform colours and graphics, which can be completed cheaper overseas on a larger scale.


Much of Australia’s cigarette printing was produced by Anzpac, which was last year sold to a Hong Kong investor, with half of its staff being made redundant.


Anzpac was founded in 1900 as a family owned business Deaton & Spencer. It was bought by its major customer cigarette manufacturer Rothmans in 1986, which merged with British American Tobacco in 1999. In 2004 it installed the world’s longest KBA 142 press which came with multiple print and coat units.


By 2005 it was one of the top three Australian packaging printers and produced the packaging used for cigarettes across the country. However a decline in cigarette consumption and latterly the plain packaging laws made most of the new press virtually redundant, so the company switched to other packaging sectors.


Anzpac was sold in 2008 to the New Toyo Group for $60m. New Toyo is currently producing the plain packaging used in Australia’s cigarette packets, although it is no longer done in this country.


The redundancies were put in place by New Toyo, with the staff finishing on the final day of its ownership. The company now has around 30 staff at the plant. Steve Arduin remains as head of operations at the plant, located in the heart of Sydney.


The business will continue with its aim of growing in the food, beverage, confectionery and cosmetics markets.


New Anzpac as it is now known is one of the oldest print businesses in Australia. At one stage it was feared it would have to be closed, as the company struggled with the plain packaging laws for its major activity, cigarette cartons.


Plain packaging for cigarettes is being considered in other countries including the UK and Canada. Rates of smoking in Australia have declined since the introduction of plain packaging.


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