The world's largest chocolate manufacturer has said that it laid the foundation stone for a new chocolate factory in Suzhou, China, today (28 November). The company is increasing its production capacity in the region to cater for the growing demand for chocolate products in China, which is expected to be boosted by the 2008 Olympics.

"Demand for chocolate in China is growing rapidly and will be further spurred by the Olympics in 2008 and the World Expo in Shanghai in 2010. Our new factory in China, which is part of our geographic expansion strategy, will serve industrial food manufacturers and artisans," CEO Patrick De Maeseneire explained.

Construction and start-up time for the new factory is expected to take between 12 and 18 months. The new factory will have a capacity of 25,000 tonnes and offer about 100 new jobs once it is running at full capacity. 

The factory represents an investment of CHF20m (EUR13m).

Barry Callebaut's presence in the region has grown steadily since the company opened a chocolate factory in Singapore in 1997 and a sales office in Japan in 2004.