Japanese food giant Meiji Holdings is expanding its capacity to produce functional yogurt, which it sells under its Meiji Probio brand.

The company plans to invest JPY5bn (US$47.7m) at its Toda production plant to install an additional production line to manufacture drinking yogurt. Production is expected to launch in late December. 

Meiji said that the investment was part of its medium-term business plan and would support the double-digit sales growth that its functional yogurt brands have reported in recent years. Net sales of the group’s yogurts reached JPY100bn in the year to the end of March and the company said it has been able to grow ahead of the category, which is valued at JPY388bn. 

“Meiji expects that increased health awareness and understanding of the functional value of lactobacillus among consumers will lead to continuous growth for the market. Meiji will build [an] appropriate production system and expand its functional yogurts business,” the company said in a statement. 

The company said it did not expect the investment to have a “material impact” on its financial performance for the 12 months to the end of March 2017. 

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By GlobalData