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MEMPHIS, TN-Hershey Foods Corp. is on schedule to complete a $40 million expansion in January of an existing confections plant where 100 workers will be added to the 300-person staff, according to Industrial Information Resources Inc. of Houston.

Hershey is racing to meet the first-quarter deadline so that it can begin production of Twizzlers licorice candy and Breath Savers Nibs & Bits, two new lines. The new production line equipment is scheduled to arrive in November.

When the plant is completed, production of Bubble Yum gum and Breath Savers mint products will be transferred to the Memphis plant. Hershey bought Kraft Foods in December 2000.

The Pennsylvania chocolate and candy maker had initially planned a $2.7 million expansion but revised plans after the Kraft Foods purchase, according to Industrial Information Resources.

The Memphis plant was originally opened in 1928 by Thomas Brothers Candy Co. to produce a variety of hard candies. In 1948, Thomas began producing Super Bubble gum. Ownership was shifted to Leaf Inc. in the 1940s. Hershey bought the plant in late 1996.

Hershey posted annual sales of $4.2 billion in 2000, up 8.1% over 1999 figures.

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