Food processor announces major expansion of Manitoba operations
By Top Crop Manager
The Manitoba government and J.R. Simplot Company (Simplot) announced a major investment and expansion in the company’s Manitoba-based operations near Portage la Prairie. Premier Brian Pallister and Agriculture Minister Ralph Eichler were joined by Mark McKellar from Simplot to make the announcement.
“Our government is excited to join Simplot today to announce a historic investment and expansion of their Manitoba operations,” said Pallister. “Simplot has already established itself as a member of the community of Portage la Prairie and now they are doubling their operations and investing in the future of Manitoba. Simplot, like others before them, has taken notice of a renewed focus on improving the business climate and our efforts to create opportunities for growth and investment.”
“Manitoba delivers in so many ways that will help make this project a success,” said Mark McKellar, food group president, Simplot. “It has access to quality potatoes, a strong grower community, availability of highly skilled employees and distribution routes that continue to expand our footprint. We are convinced Manitoba’s business-friendly environment made this the right decision for the J.R. Simplot Company.”
Simplot confirmed the $460 million construction project is expected to begin this spring and will increase the size of the facility from 180,000 to 460,000 square feet. The expansion will more than double the plant’s need for potatoes from regional growers, while increasing its employment by 87 expected new full-time positions. Current operations are expected to continue during construction, with expanded processing capacity expected in fall 2019.
“Simplot has been an outstanding corporate and community partner since establishing its operations in Manitoba,” said Eichler. “This investment further cements their reputation as a pillar in Manitoba’s agriculture and food processing sector. The plant’s increase in capacity also presents a tremendous opportunity for Manitoba farmers to strengthen their partnership with a reliable local processor and increase potato production in Manitoba.”
The investment package provided by the Manitoba government includes tax increment financing up to $6.31 million to assist with anticipated capital investments and road improvements. Manitoba will also provide up to $522,000 in employee training contributions, based on the number of new positions.
Manitoba Hydro will provide $1 million in PowerSmart program funding for electrical and natural gas efficiency projects, based on the plant meeting program guidelines.
“Simplot has long been an outstanding partner and contributor to the community of Portage la Prairie and the surrounding area,” said Kam Blight, reeve for the Rural Municipality of Portage la Prairie. “We are beyond excited for them to grow their operations here and create even more economic opportunities for the region. In addition to the recent announcement of Roquette, business truly is booming for Portage la Prairie.”
"This is a great day for the Portage region,” said Irvine Ferris, mayor, City of Portage la Prairie. “Simplot has been a strong corporate citizen in our community since 2003. We welcome today's announcement, that Simplot will double production in Portage. This significant investment will create more jobs, business opportunities and prosperity for the entire region."
As part of the expansion, Simplot will incorporate similar industry-leading energy and water efficiency processes which were first established at the company’s plant in Caldwell, Idaho. It was recently awarded Food Processing Green Plant of the Year in 2017 by a leading industry publication.
Founded in 1929, J.R. Simplot Company is headquartered in Boise, Idaho and has operations in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia, New Zealand and China, marketing products to more than 40 countries worldwide.
Manitoba growers annually harvest over 65,000 acres of potatoes, representing one-fifth of the Canada's total potato crop and making Manitoba the second-largest producer in the country.