USA – American multinational manufacturer of confectionery and pet food Mars Wrigley is investing US$175 million to expand the manufacturing capabilities of its US chocolate candy plant.

With the investment, the facility in Topeka, Kansas will begin manufacturing Milky Way and 3 Musketeers bars there, the company announced in a press release.

New equipment will also be installed to boost packaging efficiencies for Mars Wrigley candy made at the facility, which also includes Twix and M&M’s Peanut.

Mars Wrigley revealed that the expansion work is slated to be finished next year and will add 100 jobs to the plant.

Mars Wrigley has invested a total of US$750 million in the Topeka facility since it was first commissioned in 2014.

News of the Kansas plant expansion comes less than three months after Mars Wrigley announced it was closing its original Mars factory in Chicago.

The privately-owned company did not explain the decision, other than to note that production from that facility will shift to other Mars Wrigley plants over the next two years.

It’s unclear if the Topeka plant is assuming some of that production capacity but the investment certainly reflects Mars Wrigley’s optimism in the outlook for candy.

The company has all reasons to be optimistic since the market hit a record US$36.9 billion in U.S. retail sales last year, according to the National Confectioners Association.

Earlier, Mars Wrigley International Travel Retail (ITR) said that it believes that core products are set to be at the heart of recovery in the Americas travel retail market.

The brand has said it will focus on restoring distribution of key products in border stores, airlines and the cruise and ferry channels in the region.

This will be led by new product development from key brands such as M&Ms and Twix; both new and existing lines will be presented in partnership with Mars Wrigley ITR’s long-standing distribution partner B&S.

Meanwhile, parent company Mars Inc., which also makes Ben’s Original Rice and Pedigree pet food, filed paperwork last week with Fairfax County in Virginia to expand its McLean headquarters, where it has been located since 1984.

The company plans to demolish one building on the site so it can expand another, and add about 31,000 square feet to the location, Washington Business Journal reported.

“Given our growth, we’re exploring how we can evolve our office to meet the changing needs of our business and our Associates,” the company said in a statement.

The application filing noted that the building would feature “world-class architecture” and “multiple green building features.”

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