Swiss chocolate maker Barry Callebaut opened a chocolate factory in China today (9 January), as it looks to drive a six-fold rise in sales by 2012.

The business-to-business firm said the site in Suzhou would give it a presence closer to its customers in China.

Barry Callebaut's presence in Asia-Pacific has until now been limited to its site in Singapore, which has been running at full capacity in recent months.

Barry Callebaut CEO Patrick De Maeseneire said: "China will be our key target market in Asia for the next coming years. Today's consumption per capita may be low and may pick up only slowly in rural areas but the development speed of urban areas along the belt from Beijing to Shanghai and to Hong Kong is breathtaking."

Barry Callebaut said annual chocolate consumption in China stands at 100g per person - compared to 11kg per capita in Western Europe. Chocolate consumption in China is expected to grow by 8.8% a year over the next five years, according to the company.

Some of the capacity at Barry Callebaut's site in Singapore will be switched to the Chinese site, freeing up the Singapore facility to serve other Asian markets.