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The Smith's Snackfood Company is to close its Western Australian chips plant i

Sign in front of the Smith's Snackfood Company in Canning Vale in Western Australia

Western Australian potato growers are shell-shocked after being informed the Smith's Snackfood Company will close the doors on its Canning Vale crisp manufacturing plant next year.

About a dozen WA potato growers in Busselton, Myalup, Dandaragan, Gingin, Manjimup and Pemberton supply 12,000 tonnes of potatoes to the factory, which is worth about $5 million to growers each year.

The closure follows a long-running debate about the future of the industry continuing to operate in a regulated market.

Wade DeCampo is the Manjimup Shire president. He supplies about 1,000 tonnes of potatoes to the company each year and has a contract to transport potatoes around the state to the Canning Vale factory.

DeCampo said it was another blow for the manufacturing industry, and ended a long history of local crisps produced and processed in WA.

The Smith's Snackfood Company - a Pepsico subsidiary - said in a statement that following a strategic review of manufacturing operations across Australia, the company had announced its intention to close its manufacturing facility at Canning Vale in WA.

The about 300 staff members working at the plant heard the news monday morning. Redundancies will be staggered over time, with some losing their job immediately.

From the company statement

“Following a strategic review of its manufacturing operations across Australia, The Smith’s Snackfood Company has announced its intention to close its manufacturing facility at Canning Vale in Western Australia.”

“At this point it is anticipated the site will close in mid to late 2016.”

“The company’s recently-upgraded oat milling facility located in Forrestfield, Western Australia, which exports significant volumes of oats to Asia, is not affected by this change.”

“The Smith’s Snackfood Company is one of a handful of companies that continues to manufacture the majority of its products locally in Australia, and to use Australian raw materials like potatoes and corn.”

“The Company is committed to Australian production and will invest in upgrading its manufacturing capability at its other plants within Australia to cover production requirements. Our current contractual agreements with our local agricultural suppliers will also remain unaffected.”

“This difficult decision was made with careful consideration, and The Smiths Snackfood Company will provide outplacement services and redundancy support to affected employees.”
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