Swiss cocoa and chocolate supplier Barry Callebaut has opened a US$40m chocolate factory in Monterrey, Mexico.

The new facility, which has an annual production capacity of around 100,000 tonnes, is Callebaut's third-largest chocolate factory worldwide.

The company said the investment is "paramount" to its global expansion strategy.

"Our new chocolate factory in Monterrey, Mexico, will enable Barry Callebaut to move closer to its growing customer base of multinational and local food manufacturers in this region," said CEO Patrick De Maeseneire.

"Chocolate confectionery in Mexico is expected to grow on average by 6.5 % per year in value terms over the next five years. These growth projections make the Mexican market a very attractive investment for Barry Callebaut."

The expansion into Mexico will now allow the company to deliver chocolate to the local Mexican market, southern parts of the US, and to Central and South America.

The facility is designed to manufacture industrial chocolate - liquid and moulded chocolate - as well as compound. Capacity utilisation at the plant is expected to increase by 60-70% by the end of fiscal year 2009/10. Full capacity is expected to be reached within five years.

Barry Callebaut already operates eight chocolate and cocoa factories in the Americas.