An expansion project is underway at Othello’s McCain Food plant that will add more than 180 new jobs.
The construction project—a $300 million investment—also will add 170,000 square feet and a state-of-the-art battered and conventional french fry processing line. The line will significantly expand McCain Foods’ North American production capacity, said Tarah Arnold, McCain Foods’ U.S. corporate affairs business partner.
The expansion of the plant, which employs 452 people and is about an hour north of the Tri-Cities, also will require about 11,000 additional acres from local potato growers in the region.
“We are very excited about the expansion of the McCain Foods potato processing facility in Othello,” said Chris Voigt, executive director of the Washington State Potato Commission. “The demand for frozen potato products in the Pacific Rim has been red hot. Many of our customers who have relied on Washington state potato products have been on rations because the supply has not been able to keep up with the demand. This expansion is a big step in meeting the demand for frozen potato products in Asia.”
The expansion is anticipated to be completed in early 2021.
The general contractor is Burlington, Washington-based Fisher Construction Group.
The company celebrated the start of the project with an Oct. 15 groundbreaking ceremony at the plant at 100 Lee St.
Potatoes are big business for Washington farmers, who grew 10.5 million pounds on 165,000 acres in 2018, worth $70 million. Processors take those hundreds of millions of potatoes and turn them into billions in frozen product. The entire industry is worth about $7.4 billion to the state’s economy.
The Othello plant expansion comes on the heels of Lamb Weston opening new plants and lines in Boardman in 2014, Richland in 2017 and Hermiston earlier this year.
McCain Foods USA is a leading supplier of frozen potato and snack food products for the food service markets, retail grocery chains and private label brands in restaurants and supermarket freezers across the country.
Headquartered in Oakbrook Terrace, Illinois, it employs 4,000 people and also operates production facilities in Idaho, Maine, Nebraska and Wisconsin.
The parent company manufactures frozen potato products and supplies french fries, potato specialties, appetizers and desserts to retail and food service customers around the globe. McCain employs more than 20,000 people and operates 53 production facilities on six continents.
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