Cadbury Schweppes has announced that it will invest AUD$24.5m (US$18.2m) in expanding the capabilities of its principal production facility in the Asia Pacific region - Cadbury's Claremont factory in Hobart, Tasmania.

The investment will fund the construction of a new modelling plant, including new wrapping and packaging technology. The new technology, the company said, will allow it to meet the growing demand for Cadbury Dairy Milk, Australia's number one chocolate bar, as well as offering the opportunity to extend the range of chocolates produced on the site for the Australian market.

Mark Smith, MD of Cadbury Schweppes Australia and New Zealand, said that the investment demonstrates Cadbury's commitment to growing its business in the region through the Tasmanian site. 

"Cadbury Schweppes has a rich and proud history in Tasmania and today's announcement substantiates our continuing commitment to the future of this unique manufacturing site," said Smith.

Additionally, the company received a Tasmanian state government grant of AUD$450,000 to fund the training of 50 new workers over th next five-years.

"Throughout the last 85 years, we have worked very closely with the Tasmanian government and I'm delighted to affirm that we continue a great working relationship with the government today.

"The factory expansion has been assisted through the support of a Tasmanian state government grant, which will be used for training and employment," Smith commented.

Cadbury said that it had been working in cooperation with AusTrade to ensure maximum Australian content in the plant - much of the supporting infrastructure and engineering will be sourced from a selection of Tasmanian and mainland companies.

It is expected that the plant will be fully operational by January 2007.