There is no doubt that 2020 will go down in history as a very challenging year for virtually everyone everywhere. The coronavirus has effectively forced our way of living to an abrupt halt, causing uncertainty and concerns for the health of family and friends. Care – one of our company's core values – has never been more evident, essential, and alive in our employees than it has throughout this global pandemic. I could not be prouder of our colleagues across the globe for their commitment to our customers and to each other. Under extremely challenging circumstances, they produced record volumes while protecting the health and safety of our people – our highest priority. Working together, our teams overcame many obstacles to achieve an astonishing degree of continuity in production, raw-material supply, and timely delivery to our customers.
Corbion’s purpose – “preserving food, food production, health, and the planet” – has proven especially meaningful and relevant in this time of crisis. Everything we do – from product offerings and operations to investments and innovation – is perfectly aligned with urgently felt needs in markets and industries around the globe. This is exactly why we are increasingly capturing the attention of a growing number of future-focused impact investors.
All business segments at Corbion improved significantly over the last year, in terms of both sales and profits. Given the profound impact of the COVID-19 pandemic across the global food industry throughout 2020, the successes achieved by our teams in driving sales and profit growth, as well as the continued high productivity in our plants, are truly remarkable. In Sustainable Food Solutions, we saw customers securing supplies and increasing inventories as much as possible in March, as an initial market reaction to the pandemic. As supply chains held firm, our customers proceeded to bring inventories down to pre-crisis levels in the second quarter. Lockdowns caused shifts in consumption, with significant increases in packaged food sales, offset by a slowdown in food service. In Lactic Acid & Specialties, we experienced some adverse COVID-19 impact in certain markets such as biomaterials for medical devices. On the other hand, we saw good growth driven by positive developments in both the electronics and PLA bioplastics.
As markets for PLA bioplastics and lactic acid derivatives are rapidly expanding, the urgency behind expanding our lactic acid production capacity has increased. Which is why in January of 2020 we announced that we will build a new 125,000 metric tons lactic acid plant in Thailand, operating at the highest sustainability standards and with the lowest footprint and costs. The new plant is expected to be operational in 2023 and will be based on our innovative and proprietary technology.
In addition to this, we jointly announced with Total on 29 September 2020, our intention to build a second PLA bioplastics plant, the first world-scale plant in Europe, through the Total Corbion PLA joint venture. This project is excellent news for Corbion, Total, our joint venture, and for the world. Luminy® PLA bioplastic is increasingly finding its place as a plastic that enables the world’s acceleration toward a circular and biobased economy. An important goal outlined in our Advance 2025 strategy is to support Total Corbion PLA in becoming the market leader in PLA, and this new plant will put us firmly on track to achieve that goal.
With global crises such as COVID-19 and climate change converging, public and private institutions must demonstrate accountability, ethical behavior, inclusiveness, and transparency. The world’s response to COVID-19 shows how quickly we, as a society, can change our behaviors – something we must also do when it comes to respecting our planet’s natural boundaries. Accordingly, we have set ambitious sustainability targets and assessed our entire product portfolio as well as our value chain with a view to the potential – positive and negative – impact on the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. Achieving a sustainable future for all is not something we can do alone, so we are increasing our open innovation efforts and collaborating with like-minded companies and academics.
While Corbion's commitment to providing a safe workplace for everyone has always been strong, the pandemic has inspired us to take that commitment to another level. In addition to putting rigorous COVID-19 measures in place, we performed a Safety Culture Assessment designed to further improve our safety culture and bring us closer to our zero-incident ambition. Let me underline clearly – and I am speaking here on behalf of the entire Executive Committee – that our number one priority is protecting the health and well-being of our people. We will never compromise on that.
At the same time, we remain deeply committed to consistently delivering on our customers' expectations. We are fortunate to be weathering this storm from a position of financial stability and resilience, and we will continue navigating the uncertainties of a post-COVID-19 world with the same focus and resolve that have brought us this far and kept us moving forward with our Advance 2025 strategy. On behalf of my colleagues across the world, I want to thank our customers, suppliers, partners, and shareholders for their continued confidence in Corbion.
Take care, stay safe, stay healthy.