Mars Wrigley investing $175M to expand chocolate candy plant in Kansas

Mars Wrigley is investing $175 million in its Topeka, Kansas, chocolate candy plant, with plans to expand production of Snickers and begin manufacturing Milky Way and 3 Musketeers bars there, the company announced this week. 

The investment will also pay for new equipment to boost packaging efficiencies for Mars Wrigley candy made at the facility, which also includes Twix and M&M’s Peanut, according to a press release shared with Food Dive. The expansion work is slated to be finished next year, and will add 100 jobs to the plant.

The Topeka plant opened in 2014, and Mars Wrigley has invested a total of $750 million in the facility over the years.

News of the Kansas plant expansion comes less than three months after Mars Wrigley announced it was closing its original Mars factory in Chicago. The privately-owned company did not explain the decision, other than to note that production from that facility, which manufactures M&M’s, Twix, Snickers, Milky Way and Skittles, will shift to other Mars Wrigley plants over the next two years. It’s unclear if the Topeka plant is assuming some of that production capacity; Food Dive has asked the company for comment.

The Topeka investment reflects Mars Wrigley’s optimism in the outlook for candy, which hit a record $36.9 billion in U.S. retail sales last year, according to the National Confectioners Association. This followed a slight sales dip in 2020. NCA reported a 9.2% increase in sales for chocolate candy.

Meanwhile, parent company Mars Inc., which also makes Ben’s Original Rice and Pedigree pet food, filed paperwork last week with Fairfax County in Virginia to expand its McLean headquarters, where it has been located since 1984. The company plans to demolish one building on the site so it can expand another, and add about 31,000 square feet to the location, Washington Business Journal reported.

“Given our growth, we’re exploring how we can evolve our office to meet the changing needs of our business and our Associates,” the company said in a statement shared with Food Dive. The application filing noted that the building would feature “world-class architecture” and “multiple green building features.”