J.R. Simplot Company plans to construct what it labels a "state-of-the-art" potato processing plant halfway between Boise and the Oregon border in Caldwell, Idaho.
Construction is expected to launch in May, 2012, for completion in the spring of 2014 of the 380,000-square-foot facility which Simplot hopes will help it remain competitive and enhance its environmental benefits.
"Competition in the food industry has become challenging, with profit margins shrinking and costs continuing to rise," says Simplot CEO Bill Whitacre.
"'These factors and other considerations have made it important to the future of well-being of our food industry that we build this new plant."
Simplot did not release information on the cost of the new unit, but it will be the largest single investment the company has made in Idaho, notes Whitacre.
The new plant will replace Simplot's existing Caldwell processing plant and will also result in closures at other of the company's units in Aberdeen and Nampa, Idaho, which overall is expected to result in elimination of 800 jobs.
"We struggled with this very difficult decision and we know the closures will have an impact on many of our employees and their families," says Whitacre. "We will be doing what we can to ease the transition as it occurs, including providing separation packages, onsite counseling, out-placement services, and other forms of assistance.
"We are committed to providing transitional support for our employees, and we hope that making this announcement so far in advance of the closures will help them to adequately plan for their futures."
The new plant will require about 250 workers, and will be "far more efficient" than plants to close, the company says. It is also expected to produce a smaller carbon footprint, use less water be more energy efficient.
"The new plant will produce the same output as the three older plants, and will allow us to remain competitive in the marketplace," explains Mark McKellar, Simplot Food Group president.