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Oct 02, 2009 17:50 EEST
October 2 (SeeNews) - The Bulgarian unit of U.S.giant Kraft Foods plans to double coffee production and treble chocolate output next year thanks to a completed investment in capacity expansion worth some 44 million levs ($32.9 million/22.5 million euro), senior company officials said on Friday.
Kraft Foods Bulgaria will also aim to become a regional hub for Kraft Food products in Southeastern Europe after the parent company closed its chocolate factory in Brasov in neighbouring Romania last year.
Kraft Foods Bulgaria plans exports of 100 million levs a year, its executive director Franco Del Fabbro told the opening ceremony at the company's new 40 million lev extension of its confectionery factory in the town of Svoge, 33 kilometres north of Sofia.
The company launched another production line at the extension and plans to launch a third one in January.
The company also invested some 4.0 million levs in the past two years in its coffee factory in Kostinbrod, some 15 kilometres north of Sofia. Thanks to this investment, the factory's capacity for processing Jacobs coffee was doubled to 17,000 tonnes. The plant also processes coffee under the Nova Brasilia brand.
Kraft Foods Bulgaria says it holds more than half of the coffee market in Bulgaria and more than a third of the country's chocolate market.
"The new unit will produce three times more than the old one which means 100,000 pieces of chococalate a day which means 3.6 million pieces a year," Del Fabbro told SeeNews on the sidelines of the opening ceremony.
"Next year there will be more than 10 million packs of coffee coming up out of the Kostinbrod factory," he said, adding the figure was nearly double as compared to 2009 production volume.
"Once all the lines [at the Svoge factory] are at full production, the third line will start some time in December. We will produce approximately 60% for exports and 40% for the Bulgarian market," Del Fabbro told reporters. The main export destinations will be Romania, the republics of former Yugoslavia, and Turkey.
Approximately 60%-70% of Kraft Foods Bulgaria's coffee output will go for exports, he added.
Currently, Kraft Foods plans no fresh investment either in Bulgaria or in the region, the group's vice president and area director for southeast Europe and Turkey Christoph Wenisch told reporters.
In Europe, the group also has factories in Turkey, Poland and Hungary.
"Big corporations like ours manage a network production base and that network is a regional network [...] The important thing is to have flexible factories so that we can produce products for consumers that they want to have," Wenisch said and added:
"It is very hard to say we will invest here or there, the only thing I can guarantee is that we are committed to the region and if we need more capacity or new technology, we will invest."
Kraft Foods entered Bulgaria in 1993 when it bought the Republica confectionery factory in Svoge from the Bulgarian government. Currently it manufactures Moreni wafers, Svoge Republica chocolate bars and chocolate tablets Milka, Toblerone, Suchard Sensations, Svoge and Mlechen.
(1 euro = 1.95583 Bulgarian levs)
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