ConAgra Foods announced Friday a $200 million expansion of its Lamb Weston plant in Boardman to keep up with the national and international demand for frozen potato products.
Officials said the expansion will add to the Boardman plant's capacity for making french fries and other frozen potato products by adding another line.
Lamb Weston likely will hire about 100 more people with the expansion, according to a news release.
Lamb Weston already employs almost 4,500 people in the Columbia Basin region, including 500 employees in Boardman.
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Construction of the 192,000-square-foot addition is expected to start in early 2013. The expansion should open in 2014, officials said in a news release.
Lamb Weston's capacity increase is needed to fulfill customer growth projections, especially in international markets, according to a news release.
Lamb Weston, ConAgra Foods' largest brand, is the largest potato processor in Washington, and one of the largest global producers.
"Our need to expand is a testament to our strong customer partnerships, our great-tasting french fries, and the outstanding work our employees do every day to create food people love," said Rick Martin, vice president of global operations for Lamb Weston, in a news release.
The Boardman plant is one of seven Lamb Weston plants in the Columbia Basin. Each year, the Boardman plant, along with the six others, processes 11 billion potatoes from Columbia Basin fields. That's enough potatoes to fill 350 football fields 6 feet deep.
The Boardman facility, which has easy access to the Port of Morrow, is strategically situated to support domestic and international growth plans of Lamb Weston customers, officials said in a news release.
It also is close to prime growing and shipping operations, helping reduce the company's carbon footprint.
Nationwide, Washington grows the second-largest volume of potatoes after Idaho and accounts for about 21 percent of total U.S. production, according to the Washington State Potato Commission.
Most of those potatoes are processed into french fries, hash browns, tater tots and other potato products.
"This expansion also reflects our confidence in the region's growers to deliver high-quality potatoes while working with state and local government to ensure long-term, sustainable growing practices," Martin said in a news release.