Simplot Manitoba Plant Expansion to Double Potato Demand
The Manitoba provincial government in Canada and J.R. Simplot have announced a major investment and expansion in the company’s operations near Portage la Prairie. The plant, which opened in 2003, produces frozen french fries and other value-added potato products for foodservice accounts and other customers in North America and beyond.
Boise, Idaho, USA-headquartered Simplot confirmed the $460 million construction project will begin this spring, and will enlarge the facility from 180,000 to 460,000 square feet. The expansion will more than double the plant’s need for potatoes from regional growers, while increasing on-site employment by up to 87 new full-time positions. Production operations will continue during construction, with increased volume output expected in the autumn of 2019. Current processing capacity is in the range of 300 million pounds of tubers per year.
Manitoba growers annually harvest 62,800 acres of spuds representing one-fifth of the Canada's total potato crop and making the province the second-largest production area in the country. Last year’s yield amounted to over 22 million hundredweight.
“Manitoba delivers in so many ways that will help make this project a success,” said Mark McKellar, food group president of Simplot. “It has access to quality potatoes, a strong grower community, availability of highly skilled employees and distribution routes that continue to expand our footprint.”
“Simplot has been an outstanding corporate and community partner since establishing its operations in Manitoba,” said Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler. “This investment further cements their reputation as a pillar in Manitoba’s agriculture and food processing sector. The plant’s increase in capacity also presents a tremendous opportunity for farmers to strengthen their partnership with a reliable local processor and increase potato production in Manitoba.”
The investment package provided by the provincial government includes tax increment financing up to $6.31 million to assist with anticipated capital investments and road improvements. Manitoba will also provide as much as $522,000 in employee training contributions, based on the number of new positions created.
Manitoba Hydro will provide $1 million in PowerSmart program funding for electrical and natural gas efficiency projects, based on the plant meeting program guidelines.