The money will pay for a second production line at the plant, increasing capacity for making french fries and premium frozen potato products, to be fully operational by 2016, creating approximately 50 jobs.
Bas Alblas, CEO, Lamb Weston/Meijer told FoodProductionDaily, the two companies saw an opportunity to become more successful and joined forces in 1994.
“We acquired the Bergen op Zoom building in 2001 and since then we have invested a lot of money in upgrading the facilities and equipment. The next stage is the development of the site doubling our capacity there,” he said.
“The decision to invest was a major milestone for us and we will continue to further develop the facility. We decided we needed additional food production capacity based on global growth opportunities and to fulfil a growing demand and changes in consumer behaviour.
“More people around the world like French fries and for us it’s a good thing. There is a lot of misunderstanding over whether certain foods such as fries are healthy or not, but a lot of it has to do with lifestyle and how much sport you do.”
According to Euromonitor, international consumption of frozen potato products continues to climb with the worldwide frozen potato category projected to grow by 1.8bn pounds between 2013 and 2018.
The expansion by Lamb Weston/Meijer is in line with ConAgra Foods’ strategy to grow its international business. It began production on a frozen potato facility in Shangdu, Inner Mongolia, in October and in June, the firm completed the expansion of its frozen potato facility in Boardman, Oregon, US.
“People all over the world love potatoes and french fries in all forms, shapes and varieties,” said Becky Niiya, senior director, communication and external relations, ConAgra Foods.
“French fries can be part of a balanced diet. Variety and moderation are key. As a company, ConAgra Foods is an advocate for portion control as an effective way to reduce the obesity epidemic. Providing good nutrition is essential to consumer and company well-being and is part of our overall commitment to social responsibility.”
Alblas added, the biggest challenge now will be to install the production line while managing day-to-day operations at the plant.
“It’s the biggest project in the history of our company and we will be hiring machinery from a mixture of suppliers both internally and externally for the critical next steps in our processing,” he said.
Lamb Weston/Meijer declined to share photos of the processing facility in The Netherlands.