On May 7, Ferrero North America, part of the global sweet-packaged food company the Ferrero Group, celebrated the opening of its first chocolate processing facility in North America and third globally. The 70,000-sq.-ft. expansion to Ferrero's manufacturing campus in Bloomington, Illinois produces chocolate for some of Ferrero's brands including Kinder, Ferrero Rocher, Butterfinger and Crunch.

"Bringing Ferrero's decades of experience making high-quality, world class chocolate to Illinois—the heart of America's food and confections industry—is going to help us achieve our goal of being the sweets and treats leader in the market," says Alanna Cotton, president and chief business officer of Ferrero North America. "Ferrero and Bloomington are going to be greater together for years to come."

The investment further expands Ferrero's footprint in Illinois. The company manufactures Butterfinger and Baby Ruth products at its plant in Franklin Park, and Keebler products on 110th Street in Chicago. Last year the company opened its new Innovation Center and R&D Labs in Chicago's historic Marshall Field and Company Building. The Ferrero manufacturing campus in Bloomington manufactures Crunch, 100 Grand and Raisinets, in addition to now processing chocolate. The campus will also soon house a new $214 million Kinder Bueno production facility, expected to create 200 additional new local jobs when it opens later this year.

"The exceptional talent and infrastructure here in Central Illinois are helping drive the growth of Ferrero's iconic brands, from Crunch and 100 Grand to Raisinets and soon Kinder Bueno," says Illinois Governor JB Pritzker. "Ferrero's Bloomington facility, now including the company's first chocolate factory outside of Europe, is demonstrating to the world the manufacturing prowess we have right here in Illinois."

"Ferrero's investments have been a key driver of the incredible growth of our community," says Bloomington Mayor Mboka Mwilambwe. "I look forward to prospering together for years to come."

The chocolate processing facility is part of Ferrero's overall growth and investment in North America. In addition to new projects in Illinois, the company recently invested in new capacity and capabilities for its Brantford, Ontario plant and added distribution centers in Pennsylvania, Georgia, and Arizona, as well as invested in Oregon's hazelnut growers. Ferrero's North American presence now totals more than 5,100 employees across eight offices and twelve plants and warehouses in the U.S., Canada, and the Caribbean.

Ferrero Group is on the current Candy Industry “Global Top 100 Candy Companies” list. Click here to view the current “Global Top 100” rankings.­