ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston acquired the facility in July 2014 when it purchased TaiMei Potato Industries Limited for $93m. Since then, ConAgra has invested an undisclosed sum to update the facility.
Lamb Weston renovated the plant “to meet exacting standards for employee safety, food safety and quality,” Becky Niiya, ConAgra Foods’ senior director of communication and external relations, told FoodProductionDaily. She said the updates will also “bring advanced potato planting and processing technologies to the market.”
Lamb Weston makes a variety of frozen potato, sweet potato and other vegetable products for both retail and foodservice markets worldwide, but the Shangdu plant will focus on foodservice products, Niiya said. The facility employs approximately 340 people and makes frozen french fries and potato flakes for foodservice customers.
Acquiring the plant, which is located in one of the largest potato growing regions in China, was part of the company’s strategy to grow its international business, Niiya explained. Lamb Weston has operations in more than 100 countries has been doing business in China and throughout Asia for more than 25 years.
However, in opening the Shangdu facility, the company is taking a big step forward in pursuit of its international business goals.
“The plant gives ConAgra Foods in-country supply capabilities for our major quick-service restaurant chains and other strategic customers in China,” Niiya said. “Our customers have aggressive growth plans in China, and by adding ConAgra Foods’ operations in China, we will be better able to support their plans.”
At the plant’s opening ceremony, Lamb Weston president Greg Schlafer told attendees, “This is a big day for ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston and our business in China.”
“We’re pleased to be a part of the local community here in Shangdu, supporting the agricultural economy in the region,” he added. ”We’re confident in our local workforce, and we’re proud to bring our more than 60 years of potato processing experience to the area with a focus on safe, efficient and sustainable operations.”