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    McCain Foods: Manitoba highest-cost processing potato producer in North America

    Manitoba potato farmers could face steeper cuts in contracted potato production unless they can become more cost competitive with other areas of North America, a senior official with McCain Foods says.

    Christine Wentworth, McCain Foods’ vice-president of North America agricultural procurement, said in a recent interview Manitoba produces the highest-cost processing potatoes in North America.

    “The Manitoba region is uncompetitive today and so the future of processing potato growing in Manitoba, at this point, is in the hands of the growing community,” Wentworth said.

    “It is at a critical point within the potato industry in Manitoba as well as the potato industry in North America.”

    However, the Keystone Potato Growers Association, which is currently negotiating 2014 potato prices with McCain, Simplot and Cavendish Farms, says McCain’s figures are not up to date. “I would submit that those numbers aren’t current and probably not very accurate when you look at the exchange (rate between the Canadian and American dollar),” said manager Dan Sawatzky, noting McCain appears to be using figures from last year.

    McCain Foods has potato-processing plants in Portage la Prairie and Carberry. Simplot and Cavendish have plants in Portage and Jamestown, North Dakota, respectively.