French chocolate maker Cemoi says its new production plant in Cote d'Ivoire , which is set to open in May, will enable the company to serve markets across west Africa.

"While this new plant is being built first and foremost to cater for growing demand for chocolate and confectionery in the Ivory Coast – where consumers' purchasing power is rising steadily given annual GDP growth of 7-8% – it also provides scope for us to supply other countries in the region with our products," a spokesperson for Cemoi told just-food from Abidjan, the capital of Cote d'Ivoire.

Cemoi,which is independently-owned, began marketing its products in Cote d'Ivoire as recently as 18 months ago.

"The results have been very positive and convinced us of the viability of having a local production presence in the country," the spokesperson explained.

Cemoi is investing EUR6m (US$6.5m) in the plant, which will turn out finished products for both the business-to-business and consumer markets. 

"It will produce chocolate spreads, powders for breakfast drinks and chocolate coatings," the spokesperson said.

The new plant will employ 100 staff and have an annual production capacity of 5,000 tonnes. It is being built on the same site as Cemoi's cocoa bean processing plant in Abidjan, which opened in 1996.

This supplies Cemoi's ten production plants in France and three others in Germany, Poland and the UK.