As the cliché goes, the official opening of the Cavendish plant in Lethbridge in Canada’s Alberta province 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.