French Fry Rumors On The Fly

Published online: Nov 25, 2003
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Industry banter and rumor, the stuff that keeps restaurant visits interesting, is continuing over the quality of U.S.- and Canadian-made french fries.

Talk in southern Idaho circles is that McDonald's has said it prefers Idaho fries over Canadian fries and wants to source more of its fry product from Idaho. The only point that can be verified, is that Simplot's Caldwell, ID, plant, which had shut down fry lines, is running at near-to-full capacity.

This has been translated to mean that Simplot's buyers, including McDonald's, are purchasing more Idaho-made french fries.

Potato Growers of Idaho spokesmen also state that potatoes grown in Manitoba, Canada, in 2003 are not up to the quality needed for top-grade fries. This has helped to support the translation that Simplot's Idaho plants are running more fry lines. Earlier in the year, Simplot shut down lines at Caldwell and announced closure of its Heyburn, ID, plant.

The next unsubstantiated rumor is that fry buyers have been looking for additional raw product in southern Idaho. In addition, the Heyburn plant, scheduled to be moth-balled on November 1, is still running at partial capacity.

Attempts to verify these ideas were unsuccessful just prior to the Thanksgiving holiday break.