The Inventure Group, Inc. will expand its Bluffton, Ind., manufacturing facility to add extruded snack production capabilities, including sheeted dough, pellet and extruded baked snacks, later this year. The $4 million expansion is expected to be complete by the third quarter of 2010.

In addition, The Inventure Group will bring manufacturing inside that is currently outsourced, including its Burger King Onion Rings and T.G.I. Friday's Mozzarella Sticks.

"This new extrusion technology allows us to take our expertise as snack food innovators to a new, growing category of snack foods," said Terry McDaniel, chief executive officer for the Phoenix-based snack manufacturer. "It allows us to leverage our current Bluffton infrastructure to increase margins for all of the products we manufacture at that facility, and ultimately it increases in the number of new and innovative products we'll bring to market each year."

In the past 12 months, The Inventure Group has introduced a number of new extruded products including Burger King French Toast Sticks and T.G.I. Friday's Buffalo Sticks.

"The extruded snack category began with the basic cheese puff years ago, so it's amazing to see the innovation that has happened in recent years" said Steve Sklar, vice president of marketing. "We've been on the cutting edge with our extruded concepts, and certainly the new manufacturing capabilities are going to allow us even greater creative flexibility when dreaming up the next French Toast Stick or Hot & Spicy Onion Ring snack."

Clextral Group, an international food processing company based in Tampa, Fla., will manufacture and install the proprietary extruded production line in Bluffton.

Look for Snack Food & Wholesale Bakery magazine’s interview with Sklar in the June State of the Industry issue.