O’LEARY, P.E.I.—Potato producer Cavendish Farms announced July 30 that it will close a fresh produce packaging facility in O’Leary, P.E.I., at the end of the year.
The move is due to the limited availability of potatoes on Prince Edward Island.
General manager Ron Clow says Cavendish had a shortfall of 68 million kilograms of potatoes in 2017 in P.E.I. which it made up for by buying from new sources on the island as well as from producers in New Brunswick, Manitoba, Alberta and Maine.
He says the company has already made arrangements to import 29.4 million kilograms of potatoes to P.E.I. this year, which is not economically sustainable.
The firm instead will be focusing on frozen potato processing in New Annan, P.E.I.
“Cavendish Farms has had to make this difficult business decision based on ongoing demand, and limited availability of potatoes on the Island,” said Clow. “There simply aren’t enough potatoes on P.E.I. for both our lines of business.”
The O’Leary plant’s closure will affect 40 employees.
Clow says the firm will provide support to all impacted employees, and that the O’Leary facility will still be used for raw potato storage, providing some seasonal employment.
Cavendish warns that P.E.I farmers will need to grow more potatoes to meet the needs of the province’s potato processing industry, or that industry may no longer be sustainable.