Croatia-based food firm Atlantic Grupa is to build a plant to produce energy bars as part of its goal to be the "leading manufacturer of functional bars in Europe".

Atlantic Grupa, which operates across the Balkans, as well as in Germany, the UK and Italy, said it had signed a deal for a site in the city of Nova Gradiška in central Croatia.

Construction is set to start in April and the first products are expected to be on sale in the first quarter of 2015. The HRK120m (US$21.3m) project will create 50 jobs in the first year of production but the company said it plans to have 160 new posts at the site.

Atlantic Grupa claims to be the "leading European producer of sports and functional food" through its Multipower brand. It has two other plants in the German city of Hamburg and in Rogaška Slatina in Slovenia. Energy bars are at present made by an unnamed co-packer but Atlantic Grupa hopes to bring that production in-house.

"We embark on this project with a great pleasure, foremost because we are creating new value in a most direct manner – by building, manufacturing, employing and ultimately exporting our own high-quality products globally, primarily to the European market," Atlantic Grupa president and CEO Emil Tedeschi said.