Study shows advantages of locating next North American potato fry plant in Idaho

Any processor planning to build a new frozen fry plant would be wise to locate it in Idaho, according to a recently completed economics study funded by the Idaho Potato Commission. Joe Guenthner, an emeritus University of Idaho economics professor, and Amanda Jaeger, a consultant, compared costs of building and operating a fry plant in eight different locations in the US and Canada, as well as transportation costs from those locations to major fry markets. The list included Idaho, Washington, North Dakota, Wisconsin and Maine in the US, and Alberta, Manitoba and New Brunswick in Canada. One processor, McCain Foods, is already undertaking an Idaho expansion, investing $200 million to boost production at its Burley plant. Guenthner believes the industry is poised for further growth. “I understand most or all processing plants in North America are running at full capacity, and growth in demand is coming from overseas,” Guenthner said. “The industry is growing, and there will be expansion somewhere.” Capital Press report