After establishing itself in Information Technology, automobile, textile, electronics and leather industries, Tamil Nadu and Chennai in particular, is emerging as a key centre for food processing industry, Deputy Chief Minister M.K. Stalin said on Wednesday.

Inaugurating Lotte India Corporation’s plant in the outskirts of the city, Mr. Stalin said that the government was keen to spread the benefits of industrialisation evenly to all parts of the state and has announced special incentives for industries investing in southern districts.

The foundation stone for a food product special economic zone, a joint venture between TIDCO and CCL with a potential to attract Rs. 2,500 crores, will be laid on August 5 at Tuticorin. He urged the investors, particularly Koreans to invest in the SEZ to make it a success story.

Considering the importance of South Korea, one of the major investor in the state with 160 companies in Chennai alone, Mr. Stalin said the government has proposed to establish a country specific industrialcluster for South Korean SMEs near Chennai.

Lotte Group vice chairman Dong Bin Shin said that the Chennai plant, set up a cost of $ 70 million, has an operational capacity of producing 1.8 lakh cartons of Lotte Chocopie which would be exported to Middle East and African nations, besides catering to the Indian market.

Already the Nellikuppam plant was manufacturing candies enjoying a 10 percent market share in the country and 20 percent in the southern states. The Chennai facility will enable the company to capture 5 per cent of market share in biscuits by next year. On diversification, Mr. Shin said the Lotte was looking at the hotel industry. The group is interested in retail but there are regulations, he noted.

Asked about future investments in the state, including the proposed food SEZ in Tuticorin, he indicated that the group is likely to investment further after consolidating in two years time. Lotte India chairman Yong Tack Kim and managing director Myung Ki Min spoke on the occasion.