Cavendish Processing Facility in Alberta Opens

Published online: Oct 09, 2019 Articles
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Source: RD News Now

As the cliché goes, the official opening of the Cavendish plant in Lethbridge, Alberta, was no small potatoes. Premier Jason Kenney, provincial agriculture minister Devin Dreeshen, mayor Chris Spearman, and many members of the Irving family attended the event on Thursday, including company president Robert Irving.

The $430 million facility, when operating at full production capacity, will process about 735 million pounds of potatoes, employ nearly 240 people (including 62 new positions), and will ship french fries to markets around the world.

Irving says since his family opened its first plant in Lethbridge in 2013, they’ve been pleasantly surprised with the quality of the potatoes here.

“The quality of the potatoes here, we believe, is some of the best in North America. As well as the people. The team here at the Cavendish plant that we have here today have done a fabulous job in producing quality French fries. And we’ve been recognized; we’ve won many awards from top quality restaurant chains in recognizing the quality of the plant here for the french fries.”

Even though there’s also competition from other plants in southern Alberta, he’s adamant there are plenty of potatoes to go around.

“We made this investment knowing that the growers would make the investment to grow more acres for us. They came forward, they have made a serious commitment to us about supplying quality potatoes to us, so we know we’ll have potatoes for our plant here.”

Mayor Chris Spearman says the Irving family’s investment is the largest in the city’s history.

“The investment by the Irvings will encourage others to come to Lethbridge to say, ‘What do we have going on here?’ And we have a lot of natural advantages. We have a lot of local expertise.”

There are future expansion plans on the horizon as well; up to twice the size of the current facility. Spearman says it’s important to work with the province to make sure that the city’s infrastructure can support those plans, along with future expansion in other areas of the Sherring Industrial Park.

“This really helps us with our arguments about developing economic development in and around the city of Lethbridge…I think it’s the key to our economy…we don’t have oil and gas. People will always want food worldwide. Going forward, we will be exporting — all over the world — potatoes and potato products and all the other products that are produced in our industrial park. We have a great and diverse agricultural base, which we will continue to work on.”

The company is also buying more than 16,000 acres of potatoes to be grown locally, along with using local suppliers, equipment manufacturers and transportation modes to keep the operation going.

The old Cavendish plant will be decommissioned, but it’s not clear at this point, if anything will go in its place.

The new plant in Lethbridge will service western Canada, the U.S., Mexico, China, Japan, Thailand and Singapore.