Danone-owned baby food specialist Bledina is investing EUR20m (US$26.9m) at a production plant in northern France over the next two years in response to growth in business.

Bledina wants its Steenvorde plant to be "a centre of excellence" in the production of Danone Baby Nutrition's range of liquid milk and to be "the most competitive player on the market". 

The company also wants the facility to emerge as its sole site for powdered milk. Bledina insisted sites currently manufacturing powdered milk would not be closed with the loss of production being replaced with other lines.

New packaging lines are planned for liquid milk and cereals at Steenvorde, while the production of powdered milk "will be optimised in order to improve nutritional quality".

Output at the plant for liquid and powdered milk is expected to rise by 35% over the next four years thanks to the reintegration of sub-contracted production, Bledina added.

However, expansion at Steenvorde will not lead to the creation of new jobs but rather a re-organisation of production. Ten per cent of the current workforce of around 320 will be offered re-training.