Crailar flax fiber goes into production in December

Crailar Technologies Inc., the company that until earlier this month was known as Naturally Advanced Technologies Inc., announced Wednesday it will start up its first full-scale manufacturing plant on Dec. 17.

The plant, based in South Carolina, will spin flax-based fiber for the likes of HanesBrands, Target Corp. and others.

In a conference call last month with investors, Ken Barker, Crailer's CEO, said the company is also in talks with Adidas, Nike, Under Armour and Ikea, while no formal partnerships have been announced.

Crailar Technologies, which trades its stock in Canada and has a home office in Vancouver, B.C., has a co-headquarters in Portland where its executives are based. The company invested $8 million in the Pamplico, S.C. production facility.

"We are pleased to be on schedule with the timeline we put forth in October, and thrilled to turn the power on and move into production before the end of the year," said Barker in a press release.

The production facility will start by producing about 150,000 pounds per week of the fiber in January, ramping up to 300,000 pounds per week in February and adding additional capacity to reach 600,000 pounds per week by the end of next year.

Crailar Technologies has struck a parade of deals with companies interested in integrating the sustainably produced fibers into clothing lines. HanesBrands, Georgia-Pacific, Brilliant Global Knitwear, Tuscarora Yarns and Target are using the fiber in commercial products, while Levi Strauss & Co., Cintas, Carhartt, Ashland, PVH Corp. and Lenzing are evaluating the fiber for future commercial use.

The company originally started to develop its technology for use with hemp fibers, but then modified course to work with flax. Officials say Crailar processing uses a fraction of the water and chemical inputs used with other natural fibers.

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