NEW YORK — Zhongpin Inc. has started to expand and further improve its pork plant in the city of Anyang in Henan province within the People's Republic of China. The company will invest $6.3 million to further improve the plant's pre-cooling room and equipment and to expand the plant's production capacity for chilled pork.

The expansion will increase the plant's capacity by 35% to an annual capacity of 85,000 metric tons from the current 63,000 metric tons. After the expansion, chilled pork will account for about 70% of the plant's capacity, up from the current 60% of capacity. The four-month project is scheduled to be completed in July.

"Our presence in Anyang and the north China market has successfully increased the demand for our products, especially for chilled pork,” said Xianfu Zhu, chairman and chief executive officer of Zhongpin. “The improvements we are making this year in our Anyang plant should help meet the rapidly growing demand for high-quality chilled pork that we expect in north China over the next several years."

This plant began operations in September 2007. In 2009, it reached an average annual capacity utilization rate of about 82%.

North China is one of the company's important markets. With the company's expansion in its geographic markets and distribution channels, the demand for its chilled and frozen pork continues to increase. One factor adding to Zhongpin's growth is that smaller pork processing plants are gradually shutting down because they are unable to meet the government's latest stringent sanitary standards. Zhongpin said its expansion in the Anyang plant will help satisfy the growing demand for Zhongpin's products in that target market.

Zhongpin Inc. specializes in pork and pork products, fruits and vegetables in China. Its distribution network in the China covers 20 provinces plus Beijing, Shanghai, Tianjin and Chongqing and includes more than 3,000 retail outlets. Zhongpin's export markets include the European Union and Southeast Asia.