LAKELAND, FLA. — Pepperidge Farm, Inc. on Monday said it plans to invest in a new high capacity bread production line at its Lakeland facility, increasing the plant’s production capacity by 31 million loaves per year and enabling the Norwalk, Conn.-based company to keep pace with growing demand for its product in the Southeast. As part of the investment, Pepperidge will add-on to the current facility, bringing the total area of the plant to 320,000 square feet.

The expansion is expected to create 45 new jobs at the 20-year-old facility, and will bring total employment at the Lakeland plant to 335. Construction of the plant addition and installation of the new bread line are expected to take about a year to complete with start-up anticipated for summer of 2008, Pepperidge said.

"Consumer demand for our premium fresh breads — especially Whole Grain and Natural varieties — has never been stronger," said Pat Callaghan, president of Pepperidge Farm. "This new facility will enable us to meet that demand while maintaining the premium quality and freshness that have been Pepperidge Farm hallmarks for 70 years."