Japan-based snacks firm Calbee has revealed it is to build a new, heavily-automated plant in its Hiroshima birthplace.

Construction will begin in 2023 on the project, which also involves relocating two existing factories operating in the same area and integrating them into the new facility in the future.

This integration involves the existing Hiroshima-Nishi factory which produces potato chips, which opened in 1986 and has 200 employees, and another Hiroshima factory which opened in 2006 and also employs around 200 people.

The company is hopeful the new Saeki-ku plant, which will manufacture crisps, snacks and “products in new food areas” will be up and running by 2024.

It will be Calbee’s largest-ever facility with a site area of 100,000 sq m.

Calbee said that, with the construction of the new factory, it is seeking  to implement new automated processes, improve production efficiency, and reduce the impact on the environment through the “efficient use of energy in order to address the issue of its ageing facilities, as well as to respond to increased product demand and labour shortages”.

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Such labour shortages in Japan are widely linked to the country’s ageing population.

“The new state-of-the-art factory will serve as a ‘mother factory’ that is responsible for technical development and new product creation through the introduction of cutting-edge technologies such as DX, in addition to the manufacture of existing products,” Calbee said in a statement.

“Calbee aims to improve its group’s production competitiveness by expanding the successful achievements at the new factory to other production sites.”

PepsiCo owns a 20% stake in Calbee, as per shareholder data in the Japanese group’s latest annual report.