Moose Munch Confection’s ever-growing popularity has outstripped Harry & David’s ability to produce the popular snack at its Medford campus.

Harry & David Holdings Inc. announced today that it was breaking ground on a $16 million expansion at its Hebron, Ohio, facility for candy, chocolate and packaging operations.

“We just can’t make it fast enough,” said Harry & David spokesman Bill Ihle, noting that the Medford kitchen operates 20 hours a day, allowing four hours for cleaning.

“This expansion is in response to sales growth of these products in all channels,” Bill Williams, Harry & David president and chief executive officer, said in a statement. “This addition will allow us to reduce transportation costs while at the same time increasing our production to meet customer demand.”

The company will boost production of its Moose Munch line by 4 million pounds annually and ramp up chocolate-covered fruit by another 3 million pounds.

Much of Harry & David’s marketing targets eastern metropolitan areas.

“Our Ohio distribution center is a key activity hub for us,” Williams said. “Last year, we shipped more than 3.6 million gifts, which is 1 million more than we sent from our Medford distribution center.”

The Hebron expansion is expected to create about 160 new full-time jobs, with an annual payroll of about $4 million, in addition to its present 225-person workforce. Construction is expected to be completed by fall 2008. In 1997 the company opened a $34 million regional distribution and call center there.

— Greg Stiles