Fargo, ND, Company Eyes Idaho Pacific

Published online: Jul 15, 2004
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Otter Tail Corporation of Fargo, ND, has signed a non-binding letter of intent to buy Idaho Pacific, one of North America's largest potato dehydrators of flakes and similar products for the retail and foodservice markets.

Idaho Pacific Holdings is the parent company of AgraWest Food of Souris, Prince Edward Island, Canada, Idaho Pacific Corporation of Ririe, ID, and Idaho Pacific Colorado Corp. of Center, CO.

Idaho Pacific Holdings and Otter Tail are in negotiations which could take up to a month before the sale becomes final.

The Souris plant is currently under going a $2 million expansion which will add 22 new jobs. It presently employs 50 workers. The expansion will allow for the a new line to produce potato granules.

The Idaho Pacific plant in Ririe, ID, the original plant in the three-plant group which employes 380, doesn't expect any changes.

It is not known how the buy out will affect the Center, CO, Idaho Pacific Colorado Corp., formerly Sunshine Potato, which is part of the deal.

Otter Tail, with about 3,000 employees and annual sales of $750 million, has interests in diversified operations that include an electric utility, plastics, manufacturing, health services and other businesses. The company is traded on the New York Stock Exchange under the OTTR symbol.

Terms of the proposed transaction have not been disclosed by Otter Tail but Rick Zirkelbach, president of the company at its Rigby, ID, headquarters, says the acquisition comes because of the attractiveness of the company  and the performance of its plants. The company reported revenues of $46.2 million in 2003.

The Fargo, ND/Minnesota area presently has only one dehy plant owned by R. D. Offut Foods. It has not been disclosed if the purchaser intends to add another dehy plant for the Red River Valley potato production area.