Belgian-based food group Vandemoortele is to invest EUR25m to build a 40,000 tonne-a-year bread plant to complement its existing pastries facility in Arras.

The projected capacity will eventually come from three highly automated lines that will produce a range of deep frozen bake-off products for premium breads, including traditional sourdough-based products.

"The new factory will be operational with its first line from the start of 2009, creating 70 jobs in the first phase," said Christian Porcheron, plant manager at the pastries facility.

Work will start in March on the project, which will also include a 10,000 pallet deep freeze storage and logistics facility. Some production from Vandemoortele's plant in Reims, as well as nearby frozen pastry products, will be held here before despatch.

"Arras is a very practical location in this region," president of the local chamber of commerce, Patrice Joseep, told just-food. "We are at the junction of two motorways, one northbound to Belgium and beyond, the other going eastwards to Reims."