Hershey plans to make another move to expand its international business with the construction of a new plant in Malaysia.

The US confectioner said it would spend US$250m on a project to build the factory in Johor, a state in the south of Peninsular Malaysia. The company, which has facilities in India and China, said having a plant in Malaysia would give it “easy distribution access” to over 25 markets in the region.

“We are investing heavily in the region as the middle class continues to grow and consumers increasingly want chocolate and new confectionery products,” Peter Smit, senior vice president for Hershey’s operations in Asia, Europe, the Middle East and Africa.

Building work on the 700,000 sq ft plant is expected to be completed in early 2015. The site will produce four of Hershey’s five “global brands”, including its namesake chocolate and Reese’s.

Smit added: “We continue to build our iconic brands in the region as China becomes the second-largest market for Hershey in the world.”

Hershey, long criticised for having business too wedded to the US, has stepped up its international expansion in recent years.

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In May, Hershey opened an R&D centre in Shanghai as part of plans to expand in Asia. In June, the company launched a brand outside the the US for the first time with the introduction of Lancaster milk candies in China.