Canadian potato processor McCain Foods is about to start construction work on a US$43m potato processing plant in China that will produce fries for China and other Asian markets.

Employing 120 people, the plant will not be among the company's largest facilities. Production lines are scheduled to start rolling in September 2005.

With fastfood chains such as McDonald's and KFC gaining a firm foothold in China, the French fry market is booming. McCain set up a Chinese office in 1996 and has been moving steadily towards producing fries in-country.

McCain is also reported to be planning to open plants in India and Russia, in order to reduce its dependence on more mature markets. The company already has a plant that produces dumplings and other snack foods in Taiwan.