Potato industry shocked by McCain plant closure
By Potatoes in Canada
Aug. 13, 2014, Prince Edward Island – The Prince Edward Island Potato Board has released a statement in response to the announcement that McCain Foods will close its Borden-Carleton French fry facility on Oct. 31
“We were shocked and disappointed by the news from McCain,” said PEI Potato Board chairman Gary Linkletter in the statement. “As is the situation in several parts of North America, contract volumes at McCain’s P.E.I. plant were reduced over the past few years. We understand that global French fry demand has increased significantly during 2014, and we had hoped that McCain would use the excess processing capacity in Borden to supply some of that expanded demand. Instead, we’re now dealing with the loss of the plant.”
Representatives from the PEI Potato Board met with senior McCain officials on several occasions over the past few years to seek ways of stabilizing and increasing the volume of potatoes processed in Borden-Carleton. The board says it had also discussed the situation with senior government officials.
In 2014, McCain contracted with 23 Island family farms for delivery of more than $7 million worth of potatoes to the Borden-Carleton plant. The board says McCain representatives have confirmed that they will honour the contracts they’ve signed with growers for 2014, but plans for beyond 2014 are not known at this point.
“Given [the] announcement, we’re concerned for the growers who contracted with McCain in 2014, the McCain and employees and their families, and the support industries involved with the McCain plant. We have had some discussions with provincial and federal government representatives, and we’ll sit down with them shortly to discuss options for finding other markets, including reverting to delivering potatoes to McCain facilities in New Brunswick for processing in 2015 and beyond. We’d also like to identify a means of keeping the plant operating in some manner,” Linkletter concluded in the statement.