China's largest seasoning manufacturer, Guangdong province-based Foshan Haitian Flavoring & Food, is to expand its production capacity of soy sauce by building new plants in the local Gaoming district.

According to Haitian, the RMB197.7m (US$29m) programme will add 600,000 tonnes of soy sauce production capacity to the current 1 million tonnes each year. Haitian said the programme is part of its RMB2bn expansion project running from 2009 to 2015.

The company is waiting on permission for the expansion from the Foshan Environmental Protection Bureau.

Soy sauce and vinegar are essential to Chinese cuisines, but nowadays the more diversified the seasonings are, the more likely they are to win market share, said Cago Chen, a seasoning industry specialist and general manager at Guangzhou Midea Marketing Consulting.

"With their rising purchasing power, Chinese consumers are eyeing more diversified and professional seasonings and sauces," Chen said.

Both Haitain and its rival, Hong Kong-based Lee Kum Kee, offer a wide range of sauces, including oyster sauce, barbecue sauce and shrimp sauce.