The new 8,000m2 factory - located in Nasik, about 150km north of Mumbai - will initially employ 100 people and is due to open in the second quarter of 2011.
Europe's leading producer of naans and flatbreads and a major supplier of own-label breads to the UK multiples, Dunstable-based Honeytop exports to 10 European markets with overseas sales now accounting for 15% of turnover.
However, this is the first time it has expanded its manufacturing footprint overseas, md David Laurence told FoodManufacture.co.uk: “It’s the bakery equivalent of taking coals to Newcastle, but we believe our naan bread is so good that it will find a ready market with Indian consumers.
“We began exporting in 2005, but this Indian factory represents a major expansion in our overseas business. We are now looking to North America for our next international opportunity.”
140 new UK jobs
Honeytop has also been investing heavily in its UK operations over the past 18 months, pumping £7m into expanding its Dunstable bakery and creating 140 new jobs.
A large proportion of the cash has been spent on bespoke hotplate lines built by its in-house engineering team to support a move into the morning goods market via pancakes and crumpets, but there has also been a significant investment in tortilla production through the installation of what bosses claim to be the "largest and fastest tortilla lines in the world".
45% market share in 18 months
Honeytop has also developed a unique recipe and production process to prevent tortillas from sticking together in packs and forming unsightly translucent fatty patches, which combined with new resealable zip-lock packaging, has helped it achieve a 45% share of the own-label tortilla market in just 18 months.
The firm, which also manufactures Sharwoods-branded naan bread under licence and is a leading supplier to MacDonald's, has invested heavily in high-speed robotics and automation, which has increased yields, reduced waste and improved turnaround.
A recent partnership with ABB Robotics and RG Luma to introduce robotic packaging to its pancake lines helped improve cycle times by 20%.