Cavendish Farms has announced that it will be focusing on the frozen potato processing business on Prince Edward Island, Canada, due to the limited availability of potatoes in the province. The decision, which will affect 40 employees, will result in the closure of its fresh produce packaging facility in O’Leary at the end of the year.
“The supply of raw product is critical to our business,” said Ron Clow, general manager. “Cavendish Farms had to make up for a shortage of 150 million pounds of potatoes in 2017. As a result, we needed to find other sources on the island as well as import potatoes from New Brunswick, Manitoba, Alberta and Maine. Plans are already in place to import 65 million pounds this year. This practice is not sustainable. There simply aren’t enough potatoes on PEI for both our lines of business.”
The company’s human resources department will provide support to all impacted employees by helping with new assignments, offering assistance to find other positions across parent company J.D. Irving’s other units, or with post-employment support once operations cease.
“We are making every effort to assist impacted employees,” said Clow. “This is an unfortunate consequence of low yields and lack of raw potatoes on PEI. Our contracted potatoes will be used to supply our frozen potato processing plants in New Annan. We will continue to use the O’Leary facility for raw potato storage and, as such, it will continue to provide some seasonal employment.”
If farmers are not able to grow more potatoes (by increasing yields, not acres) then the Prince Edward Island industry may not be sustainable as competition in the frozen potato export market intensifies, according to the general manger. He added: “The PEI industry will require supplemental irrigation as part of the solution. The Island cannot afford to have its largest export product entirely dependent on rainfall.”
Oven Chips Winning Ways
Meanwhile, Cavendish Farms’ FlavourCrisp Tuscan Herb Oven Chips recently won the 2018 Product of the Year Canada award in the frozen food category following a nationwide consumer vote. Cavendish now has back-to-back victories in this category, having won the prize last year for Restaurant Style Frites Extra Thin Gourmet Fries.
“We thank consumers for choosing Cavendish Farms products as their favorite frozen foods two years in a row,” said Robert K. Irving, president of Cavendish Farms. “Our team continues to focus on delivering what consumers want, from the traditional products they’ve always loved to innovative new products like Tuscan Herb Oven Chips and Frites Extra Thin Gourmet Fries.”
Product of the Year is the world’s largest consumer-voted award contest for product innovation. Established 30 years ago in France, the competition takes place in 42 countries with the same purpose: Guide consumers to the best products in their market and reward manufacturers for quality and innovation.