Confectionery giant Ferrero has embarked on an expansion programme in India in a bid to capture a share of the country's growing candy market.

The company, maker of brands including Ferrero Rocher and Tic Tac, plans to spend US$35m on building a plant in the state of Maharashtra.

Ferrero already has some local production at a leased facility in Baramati but the Maharashtra site is a sign of the company's ambitions.

Ferrero India MD Attilo Capuano said the company will initially focus on producing its Tic Tac mints in Maharashtra before then making its range of premium chocolates.

"We will be using local raw materials for manufacturing and packaging and have the local communities involved to a large extent, that's important in India," Capuano told just-food.

Construction will start in the middle of next year with production slated for mid-2009. The site will employ 500 workers by 2011.

The Indian confectionery market is valued at US$665m, with sugar candy making up 70% of sales.