GELANG PATAH: Johor wants to become the “chocolate state” in the country by developing and positioning itself at the key chocolate hub in Malaysia and the region.
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said it was possible to achieve the status based on the cocoa industry in the state, which was dynamic and vibrant.
“As the key chocolate hub in the region, Johor will play a bigger role in the cocoa and the chocolate-making related downstream activities,’’ he said on Thursday.
Mohamed Khaled said this in a press conference at the opening of Guan Chong Bhd’s RM55mil industrial chocolate facility – GCB Specialty Chocalates Sdn Bhd at the Port of Tanjung Pelepas industrial zone here.
He said presently Malaysia has a cocoa grinding capacity of 300,000 tonnes annually, of which about 85% of the grinding capacity was based in Johor.
Mohamed Khaled said the RM816mil investment from the world’s famous chocolate maker, the US-based Hershey Company to set up a plant in Senai, Johor Baru as the start of achieving the chocolate hub status.
“The company’s investment in Johor is the single-largest investment in Asia to date and its Johor plant will be the distribution centre for the Asian region,’’ he said.
Mohamed said the Hershey factory in Johor is expected to be completed in 2015, and the investment would create more than 400 job opportunities for locals.
He said apart from Hershey, which had invested in Johor last year, there would be another international chocolate company to set up a plant in the state this year.
Mohamed Khaled declined to divulge more details on the new investment including the company’s name whether it was a European or US-based chocolate company.
“Don’t worry, we will reveal to you (the media) when the time is right,’’ he said adding that it was becoming more challenging to attract new investments as Johor continue to face competition from other states and countries in the region.