Mars is investing again in its pet-food capabilities with US$117m earmarked for its plant in Fort Smith, Arkansas.

Two new production lines will be added to meet consumer demand as more people have bought pets during the Covid-19 pandemic, Mars said. The cash will also be used to fund a new 47,000 square-foot warehouse and to update existing equipment at Fort Smith.

Overall, the project will create 140 full-time jobs on top of the 120 new positions announced in January, when Mars unveiled a $145m investment for the same facility. Those funds were to be allocated to add more than 200,000 square feet of floor space and two additional production lines, designed to boost output by more than 40% when completed in 2022.

Mars’ latest investment will increase capacity by more than 75%. Work is already underway and is due for completion in 2023.

Mars opened the Forth Smith facility in 2009. It produces the brands Cesar, Sheba, Nutro and Crave. The plant, among 14 the company runs in the US for pet food, currently employs 370 workers.

In March this year, Mars said it planned to increase production capacity for its Royal Canin pet-food brand by spending $390m on a new manufacturing facility in Ohio. The same month, the company said it would invest $200m on expanding a pet-food facility in Lebanon, Tennessee, for the production of Royal Canin and the Eukanuba brand.

Outside of the US, Mars announced in May it planned to increase output at its pet-food plant in Arévalo, Spain, from 26,000 tons to 50,000 tons by 2024. It was also reported earlier this year Mars was seeking to build a manufacturing site in Tianjin, China.