US-based Montana Eggs has opened its new 58,000ft² grading facility that will annually process more than 280 million eggs from 1.2 million chickens.

The new $9m facility in Great Falls, Montana, will help the company in meeting the growing regional demand for organic, free-range eggs.

Montana Eggs secretary-treasurer Mike Kleinsasser said: "The demand for Montana-grown free-range organic eggs is expected to double over the next few years and this facility will help us meet the demand."

Great Falls Montana Development Authority vice-president Jolene Schalper said: "Montana Eggs' expansion has the potential to draw in more than $13m for the state's economy.

"Companies from around the world are realising the potential of our region's strong workforce and the large number of agricultural products we can process."

"Montana Eggs' expansion has the potential to draw in more than $13m for the state's economy."

With its new facility, the company will create 20 new jobs in the region. Egg shipments from the plant are set to begin later this year.

The facility is owned by a partnership of 30 Hutterite colonies that form Montana Eggs.

The company started operations in 2011 in the Great Falls region of Montana, producing eggs and currently transitioning to a completely cage-free nesting system.

Great Falls region is also home for several large agri-processing companies, including Montana Milling, General Mills, Graincraft, and Timeless Seeds.