Mars is to set up a new manufacturing facility in the US for its Nature’s Bakery snack-bar brand.

The facility, which will be located in Salt Lake City in Utah is scheduled to be “fully operational” in July next year, the company said. The site is currently under development.

The plant will have approximately 190 full-time staff when its in operation.

Mars is spending $237m on the project to build the factory, which will span more than 339,000 square feet.

The new plant will allow the business to produce 968 million incremental packs per year,” told a Nature’s Bakery spokesperson to Just Food.

The business representative said that the new factory is strategically located near the West Coast (of the US) and is anticipated to reduce (the company’s) carbon footprint”.

It will unlock greater capabilities to better service customers across the central and western regions,” said the spokesperson.

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Reno, Nevada-headquartered Nature’s Bakery was acquired by Mars in 2020.

Nature’s Bakery’s portfolio is focused on snacks that are “plant-based, dairy-free, nut-free and non-GMO”, Mars said in a statement announcing the investment.

Mars sells the Nature’s Bakery products at US retailers including Target, Walmart and Costco.

Steve Gardiner, the CEO of Nature’s Bakery, called the move a “strategic expansion” and said it “marks a significant milestone” in the brand’s “ability to drive greater capacity to meet growing consumer and retailer demand”. Just Food has asked for more details on the growth Nature’s Bakery has seen.

“As a self-manufacturer, this facility joins our existing bakeries to reflect our commitment to innovation and quality and underscores our confidence in the thriving business environment of Utah,” Gardiner added.

Beyond the new Salt Lake City site, Nature’s Bakery has two baking facilities located in Carson City, Nevada and Hazelwood, Missouri.

In July last year, the privately-owned Mars acquired US ready-meal and sauces company Kevin’s Natural Foods.

Four months later, the M&Ms owner announced a move to buy Hotel Chocolat, a UK retailer of upmarket chocolate products.

Meanwhile, in December, Mars was among a group chocolate companies criticised by the Ethical Consumer organisation over how the company sources cocoa.

Mars was described as “inadequate” in a report by the consumer organisation, which looked into issues such as the price paid to cocoa farmers and suggestions of child labour on plantations.

The UK-based body listed 11 chocolate manufacturers as “inadequate”, a list that also included Nestlé, Mars, Ferrero, Mondelez International and Lindt & Sprüngli.