After over a year of dealing with environmental permits and licensing requirements of provincial and Canadian governments, J.R. Simplot Food Group has been granted preliminary approval to begin constructing its new fry processing plant at Portage la Prairie in Manitoba.
Although licensing is not final, full approval is expected at any time, according to spokesman Rick Fisch from the Boise, ID, headquarters of the company.
To be built just outside the town of 14,000 population which is located just over 60 miles west of Winnipeg, Simplot has begun ground preparation work this fall to be able to start actual construction next spring.
The plant will be designed to process 314- to 315-million pounds of fries per year. It is expected to be ready for operation in 2003. It is being constructed to allow for easy expansion.
Weather this fall has been good, enabling the hauling of gravel and ballast to the site without delay.
Simplot wanted to begin construction last spring but the project was slowed by the tough environmental and regulatory requirements that had to be met before a building permit could be granted.
It is expected the plant will provide fries to Simplot's buyers in the eastern U.S. and Canada.