In a big boost to manufacturing in Maharashtra, Mars International India, a wholly owned subsidiary of leading global chocolate maker Mars Inc, is investing `1,005 crore in a greenfield project to make chocolates at Khed, near Pune. This is one of its largest projects for a local market anywhere in the world. It also makes Mars’ investment in the state the second largest since the new state government took charge in October. General Electric recently announced an additional in vestment of `2,000 crore in the state, while the third major investment comes from Cognizant (`1,000 crore). The over `1,000 crore investment by Mars International India, for which the company has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the state government, will give Maharashtra its third chocolate factory after Cadbury and Ferrero Rocher. “With Ferrero Rocher and Cadbury already present, Pune is fast emerging as a ‘chocolate manufacturing hub’. Yet another step towards ‘make in india’...,“ an elated chief minister, Devendra Fadnavis tweeted. Pune district has been a chosen location for global chocolate makers for some time now. Cadbury set up a factory at Induri near Talegaon, some 40km from Pune, nearly three decades back. Italian chocolate maker Ferrero Rocher had set up its factory in Baramati, also home to Dynamix Dairy, three years ago. The Mars plant, which will roll out some of its popular global brands such as Snickers and Galaxy, has been conferred the status of a `mega project’. At a time when the state government is under pressure to deliver growth and development, the investment is expected to have a positive impact by providing local employment opportunities and a community engagement programme. The Mars project is expected to generate direct employment opportunities for over 200 people and indirect employment opportunities to over 1,000 people, Mars International India said in a statement. “Given the global legacy of Mars Inc, we welcome Mars International India’s latest investment of `1,005 crore in Pune, Maharashtra as a step towards bringing its world class products to India, which will be liked by the youth and people, all alike. The environment friendly plant will boost the economy and generate employment opportunities in Pune. This will be a great story of success for Make in India-Make in Maharashtra as currently all their products are being imported in India. We wish this project a great success,“ Fadnavis said in a statement. Ehab Abou-Oaf, regional president, Mars Chocolate, Asia Pacific, said, “India is a high priority market for Mars. We are here because we have a long-term view of business in India, to deliver sustainable, generational growth leading to mutual benefits for all our industry, our suppliers, our customers and consumers. India is one of the most rapidly emerging chocolate markets in the world and we hope to capitalize on that through this manufacturing plant. We are excited to have invested in a highly potential market like India which is poised for further growth.“ In India, Mars operates in two categories, a pet care manufacturing and marketing business and a chocolate importation and marketing operation. The chocolate industry in India is growing at nearly 20% every year. “This is one of the largest investments by Mars Inc. to set up local supply. India is definitely one of the top 5 markets and will be in the top 3 in Asia in terms of market size. With higher disposable incomes, higher GDPs, the rate of growth for the category is one of the highest, making it a high potential market for us,“ M V Natarajan, general manager, Mars International India, told TOI. Mars competes with Mondelez India (Cadbury) - the leading chocolate maker in India. (Source: The Times of India, Mumbai, March 12, 2015)
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