Due to a potato supply shortage in Prince Edward Island, Cavendish Farms announced on July 30, 2018 it will close its O’Leary packaging location on the island at the end of the year. They will instead focus on the frozen potato processing business. The closure will affect 40 employees.
If farmers are not able to grow more potatoes by increasing yields (not acres), then the PEI industry may not be sustainable as competition in the frozen potato export market intensifies. Future success will require supplemental irrigation as part of the solution. The island cannot afford to have its largest export product entirely dependent on rainfall.
“Cavendish Farms has had to make this difficult business decision based on ongoing demand, and limited availability of potatoes on the Island,” said Ron Clow, general manager, Cavendish Farms. “The supply of raw product is critical to our business. Cavendish Farms had to make up for a shortage of 150 million pounds of potatoes in 2017. As a result, we needed to find other sources on the island as well as import potatoes from New Brunswick, Manitoba, Alberta and Maine. Plans are already in place to import 65 million pounds this year. This practice is not sustainable. There simply aren’t enough potatoes on PEI for both our lines of business.”
“This is an unfortunate consequence of low yields and lack of raw potatoes on PEI,” Clow said. “Our contracted potatoes will be used to supply our frozen potato processing plants in New Annan. We will continue to use the O’Leary facility for raw potato storage and, as such, it will continue to provide some seasonal employment.”
Source: J.D. Irving, Limited July 30, 2018 news release