"--IANS/EFE"
Mexico City, Sep 22 - Italian chocolate and sweets manufacturer Ferrero SpA will invest $200 million in its first plant in Mexico, authorities said.

The Italian firm, which has distributed its products in Mexico since 1992, held a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday at the construction site in the central state of Guanajuato, the economy secretariat said in a statement here.

Ferrero was founded in 1946 in the northern Italian town of Alba by Michele Ferrero and has since expanded into the leading countries of Europe, Asia and the Americas and become the world's sixth-largest confectionery company.

Ferrero's first plant in Mexico will create 500 permanent jobs, adding to its 550 employees at its network of 24 distribution and sales points in the country's largest cities.

The Italian confectionery group will make some of the firm's best-known products at the plant, including Kinder Surprise, Kinder Chocolate, Kinder Delice and the Nutella chocolate hazelnut spread, the secretariat said.

With the new plant, Ferrero will boost its production by 35,000 tonnes, the statement said.

Economy Secretary Bruno Ferrari said Ferrero's investment is a clear sign of the competitive advantages Mexico offers for business development and growth.

It also shows the strength of the Mexican economy and its ability to attract foreign investment, he added.

Ferrero currently has 72 affiliated companies, employs more than 22,000 people worldwide and distributes its products in more than 100 countries.

--IANS/EFE

rd


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