Crailar Technologies Inc., which commissioned its first full-scale manufacturing facility in Pamplico, S.C., on Dec. 17, is set to begin production of its proprietary flax on Friday.

This story first appeared in the December 27, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“This is a milestone event for us as a company and an industry partner, heralding a new era in sustainable natural fibers for multiple market applications,” said Ken Barker, chief executive officer of Crailar. “This…innovative facility will not only deliver on production volume, but will equally showcase process efficiencies and product enhancements, which are needed by our business partners around the world.”

The company, which has made an $8 million investment in the facility, plans to tier its output at the facility beginning with an anticipated 150,000 pounds a week in January, increasing to 300,000 pounds a week in February and then to level off in the short-term at 450,000 pounds weekly. By the end of 2013, the company anticipates the commissioning of expanded production capacity at the facility of 600,000 pounds a week and to achieve a total production capacity of more than 1 million pounds of Crailar flax fiber a week by year-end 2013.

The opening of the facility comes at a time of renewed interest in U.S. textile manufacturing and marks the most significant development since Unifi Inc. opened its Repreve Recycling Center in May 2011 in Yadkinville, N.C. The $8 million investment allowed the company to expand production capacities of its Repreve polyester fiber made from recycled plastic bottles and first launched in 2006.

In late November, Crailar signed an agreement with Toronto-based Difference Capital to provide strategic public market support and financial advice as it begins full-scale production and marketing of its fiber. Difference Capital will be paid a monthly retainer during the initial one-year contract period.

Crailar offers cost-effective and environmentally sustainable natural fiber in the form of flax, hemp and other bast fibers for use in textile, industrial, energy, medical and composite material applications. Produced using a fraction of water and chemical inputs compared with other natural fibers, Crailar flax is being sold to Hanesbrands, Georgia-Pacific, Brilliant Global Knitwear, Tuscarora Yarns and Target Corp. for commercial use, and to Levi Strauss & Co., Cintas, Carhartt, Ashland, PVH Corp. and Lenzing for evaluation and development.

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