PepsiCo is building a Lay’s crisps plant in India at a cost equivalent to $95m.

The factory in Nalbari, located in the north-eastern state of Assam, is spread across 44 acres and is expected to be operational in 2025. The project will create 500 direct and indirect jobs.

An inauguration ceremony was held this week attended by state Minister Dr. Himanta Sarma and Eugene Willemsen, the CEO of PepsiCo’s Africa, Middle East and South Asia (AMESA) division, along with its region president Ahmed ElSheikh.

PepsiCo has pledged, under a local training initiative, to employ “at least” 75% female staff at the Nalbari plant, the US-headquartered snacks and beverages maker’s first in Assam.

Willemsen said: “India is amongst the fastest-growing markets for PepsiCo in the AMESA region, and we are committed to invest in the nation to build capacity. This decade is a decade of India and at PepsiCo, we are focused on building capabilities, availability and expanding penetration across the nation.”

PepsiCo entered India in 1989 and markets its Quaker breakfast cereal brand, Kurkure snacks, and the beverage lines Pepsi, Tropicana and Gatorade.

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A PepsiCo spokesperson in India told Just Food the company has 58 factories across the country, with four currently dedicated to food only, located in Uttar Pradesh, West Bengal, Punjab and Maharashtra. Assam will become the fifth.

Potatoes for the Lay’s crisps will be sourced locally, anticipated at 50,000 tonnes annually from Assam state, with plans for a cold storage facility in the next “few” years with a capacity of 60,000 tonnes of potatoes.

The Nalbari plant will employ sustainable practises such as 80% renewable energy with packaging materials sourced locally.

Minister Sarma said: “We are transforming Assam into a preferred state for investment, and I assure PepsiCo of our full support for this greenfield foods manufacturing plant. PepsiCo India aims to offer special training to women of Assam and help them gain new skills, enabling women empowerment in the state.”

Elsewhere in Asia, PepsiCo announced a return to Indonesia last month, marked with plans to construct a snacks facility in the town of Cikarang, West Java. Bangladesh was also a beneficiary of the company’s investment, with a Lay’s factory expansion project announced in June.

US food giant General Mills is also expanding in India with a new Pillsbury baking mixes plant earmarked for Nashik city, Maharashtra state.

Nestlé, meanwhile, has committed to invest more than $500m in the country through 2025. US snacks and confectionery giant Mondelez International revealed in August it would spend in excess of $150m to extend its plant in Sri City in the state of Andhra Pradesh.