Mars has opened a €80m (RUB 3.3bn) chocolate factory in Russia’s Ulyanovsk region as it looks to capture a greater share of the highest value BRIC chocolate market.
The company has taken on 170 employees at the new plant and plans an additional 250 people by the end of the year, according to a release from the government of the Ulyanovsk region issued after the plant officially opened on Wednesday.
The factory will initially produce chocolate bars, but Mars plans to expand the product range in the near future, said the regional government.
This publication asked Mars for more details on the new facility, but a response was not forthcoming.
The chocolate factory marks Mars’ second plant in the area after it opened a pet food factory in the Ulyanovsk region in 2009.
Although sales growth is expected to be highest in Brazil, the Russian chocolate market is still the most profitable BRIC chocolate market by some distance with retail value sales of €8.6bn in 2011, according to data from Euromonitor International.
The Russian chocolate market is projected to grow by a booming 28% by 2014 to $11bn.
In its 2011 result, Lindt & Sprüngli noted the market potential in Russia and said its sales in the country had grown faster than the market average in 2011.
Nestlé is another strong player in the Russian confectionery market, with brands like Rossiya-Schedray Dusha, Comilfo, Kit Kat Nesquik and Bon Pari.
However, Bruno Emmenegger, business executive manager of Nestlé Russia’s confectionery business, told ConfectioneryNews.com in August last year that growth in the Russian confectionery market had been slowed by the recession.
Ferrero also has a manufacturing presence in Russia after it began to construct a €200m in the Sobinskiy Region in 2009.