Abbott has said it will spend US$230m on building an infant nutrition manufacturing facility in China to meet increasing demand.

The plant represents the US group’s largest investment in China and will manufacture premium powdered milk products for infants and children. The site is expected to start operations in 2013 and employ around 300 people.

“This facility will play a key role in providing science-based, innovative nutritional products to infants and children while helping to build a healthier future for China,” said John Landgraf, executive vice president for nutritional products at Abbott.

The site will be in the city of Jiaxing, which is located mid-way between Shanghai and Hangzhou and will be Abbott’s first fully integrated spray drying, blending and packaging facility in China.

Products made at the manufacturing facility will contain the same quality ingredients and undergo the same testing standards as Abbott products made at the company’s other facilities, the company said.

There has been increased demand for high-quality nutrition products in China due to a growing middle class, with more than 17m infants being born each year.

According to Euromonitor data, the infant formula channel in China is set to almost double in four years, from GBP4.2bn in 2011 to GBP8.3bn (US$13.38bn) in 2015.

Abbott expects to increase its nutrition revenues in China to more than $1bn by the end of 2014.