Canada-based Cavendish Farms purchased the assets of Maple Leaf Potatoes, the frozen potato business of Maple Leaf Foods Inc., including a 142,000 square-foot processing facility in Lethbridge, Alberta. The transaction is expected to close by year-end 2012.

"Cavendish Farms is focused on growth opportunities that are a good fit for our existing business. This announcement will result in a more competitive Cavendish with stronger capabilities to service our customers from coast to coast in North America. It enhances our national distribution network in the foodservice and retail sectors in Canada, and builds on our strong position in the United States," says Robert Irving, president of Cavendish Farms and co-CEO of J.D. Irving Ltd., Cavendish Farms’ parent company.

The company expects to retain all employees currently working at the Lethbridge plant in addition to international employees.

"The Lethbridge plant is a well-maintained facility whose 135 employees produce quality frozen potato products for customers in Canada, in the United States and in key export markets," Irving adds. “A plant of this size and scale is important to the local economy in the city of Lethbridge, providing sustainable jobs and an anchor to the growing community in Southern Alberta. We want to build on those long-standing relationships and continue investing and growing the business into the future."

Cavendish Farms will continue to produce and market all products formerly offered by Maple Leaf Potatoes in the near term, and will seek to retain all existing customer relationships. The Lethbridge plant currently produces a variety of high-quality products, including frozen French fries and other specialty potato products. The Lethbridge plant is also strategically located in close proximity to Southern Alberta's prime agricultural region, renowned for its high yields of quality potatoes ideal for French fry production. The plant operates to the highest quality and safety standards and has been HACCP-certified since 2001.