McCain closing PEI french fry plant
121 jobs lost as demand shifts from North America.
BORDEN-CARLETON, PEI — McCain Foods is blaming a shift in the market for french fries and the stronger Canadian dollar for its decision to close a plant in PEI.
When the plant in Borden-Carleton shuts down at the end of October, 121 jobs will be lost.
The company said there has been a shift in demand for its French fries from North America to other parts of the world, which was a factor in its decision.
The New Brunswick-based food company says production at its plant in PEI has dropped by two-thirds over the last decade and it’s now the smallest and least utilized factory in McCain’s network of facilities across North America.
McCain says it is offering early retirement benefits and severance packages that exceed those required by the law to its employees.
Frank van Schaayk, president of McCain Foods in the Americas, says the company will contribute $2 million and work with the provincial government to help develop initiatives that create sustainable jobs for its affected workers.
“Closing a plant is one of the toughest decisions we ever face,” he said in a news release. “We deeply regret the personal impact the closure will have on our PEI employees.”
The group that represents Island potato farmers said the closure is a major blow to growers.
“We were shocked and disappointed by the news from McCain earlier today,” said PEI Potato Board chairman Gary Linkletter in a news release.
He said farmers had hoped that as French fry demand increased globally that McCain would use excess processing capacity in Borden to supply the expanding demand.
“Instead, we’re now dealing with the loss of the plant,” said Linkletter.
The group says that McCain contracted with 23 Island family farms for delivery of over $7 million worth of potatoes to the Borden-Carleton plant this year.
Linkletter said the farmers will now have to explore other options, including delivering potatoes to McCain facilities in New Brunswick for processing in 2015 and beyond.
© 2014 The Canadian Press