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This article was published 27/11/2018 (356 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
McCain Foods is committing $75 million for two Manitoba potato processing plants, including those in Carberry and Portage la Prairie.
A press release from the company says $45 million is earmarked for the Portage la Prairie facility for the purchase of a new high-efficiency potato sorting system, "cutting edge" processing and packaging equipment and new onsite waste water processing. The release also says the facility’s heating and cooling equipment will be upgraded to improve the plant’s environmental footprint and multiple trucks will be able to unload at once.
The Carberry facility will receive $30 million for the installation of auto sampling equipment, a blanching system, improved heating and refrigeration systems for the whole facility and other upgrades.
"The investments further strengthen the company’s potato processing presence in Western Canada," the release says.
A spokesperson from McCain Foods Canada could not be reached for comment by press time on Monday.
Keystone Potato Producers Association president Chad Berry said it’s great news that McCain is working on their plants and implementing improvements to them.
"It’s great for the province; great for the industry that they’re going ahead and making everything better," he said. "There were upgrades to be made."
The investment is a result of demand for frozen and speciality products in retail and food service. The press release says 550 employees work at the two Manitoba processing plants, but Berry said he wasn’t sure if it will translate to more jobs at either or both of the plants.
Earlier this month, Keystone Agricultural Producers said the Manitoba potato crop had been badly damaged by early snow, which caused large losses. At an advisory council meeting, members were told 5,200 acres of the crop were left in the ground to rot out of the roughly 62,000 acres planted in the province. On average, farmers reap around $3,000 per acre of potatoes harvested.
The McCain Carberry plant was affected by the poor crop year and had to import some potatoes from Alberta. Berry said losses were further affected by strict McCain regulations over the colour of the potatoes it accepts.
While the company’s investment won’t fix this year’s bad crop, he said it gives farmers more confidence to go ahead with their crop next year.
"It means (the potato industry)’s got a strong and stable future."
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