French ready meals producer Le Petit Cuisinier is to invest over EUR10m (US$14.6m) in a plant in Vitry-en-Artois, northern France, that will double its annual output.

The company, which supplies supermarkets and the cafeteria channel, will see the plant come into service at the end of the first quarter of 2009, and replace an existing facility.    

"The capacity of the new plant [8,000 tonnes per year] will mean we'll have greater scope to serve the French market while facilitating our international development of our products," Le Peit Cuisinier's director of sales, Gael Ropke, told just-food.

Ropke said the company, part of French catering group Agapes, is already present in the Benelux, the UK and Poland and had recently begun supplying the Russian market.

"In the UK, our traditional French dishes, such as coq au vin and blanquette de veau, are sold in Waitrose stores and we are now eyeing markets in Germany, Italy and Spain," Ropke added.

Some 10% of Le Petit Cuisinier's EUR20m turnover is made in export markets and the company is aiming is to raise this to 15-20% in the next five years.