Mars Chocolate North America disclosed on July 16 that it will invest an additional $100-million in its Topeka, Kan., facility, breaking ground on a state-of-the-art, 90,000-sq.-ft. facility there. As part of the expansion, Mars will create 70 new, full-time, permanent, high-wage manufacturing jobs.
The move comes just more than a year after the New Jersey-based company opened its $270-million plant south of the city. "For over a century, Mars has been committed to making our products in the markets where we sell them," states Tracey Massey, president of Mars Chocolate North America. "We are grateful for the warm welcome and continued support we have received from Topeka and the state of Kansas, and we are pleased to further invest in the community with additional job creation and economic development."
Mars Chocolate North America is rolling out new products and continues to make them in the U.S. From roasting peanuts in Albany, Ga., to roasting cocoa beans to making chocolate in Elizabethtown, Pa. "...We take great pride in the fact that our products – from cocoa bean to chocolate bar to bite size M&M's Brand Candies – are made in America," says Massey.
The company was the first chocolate manufacturer to reduce single-serve products to less than 250 calories. Recently, it introduced several products with an accent on more options less than 200 calories. Earlier this year the company brought back M&M'S Crispy at 180 calories per serving, and in August will launch nationally goodnessknows Snack Squares, a chocolaty snack with fruit and nuts, at 150 calories.
Work on the Topeka plant expansion will start next week, Mars stated in a news release. The construction is expected to be completed in late 2016. Mars hasn't stated specifically which candies it will make at the new facility, which will be connected to the existing plant. The existing plant makes Snickers and M&M's. Mars also makes Milky Way, Twix and 3 Musketeers candy bars.
Massey also says Mars Chocolate North America has no plans to close other facilities, and is working to introduce more single-serve products with limited calories. "Our consumers and retailers are demanding even greater choice, seeking more product variety across a range of format, calorie and price options," she adds. "By further growing our footprint in the U.S., we will better be able to introduce new treats to satisfy the most diverse consumer appetites," she says.