Princes, the UK food group, has completed the first phase of an GBP80m (US$100m) investment plan by opening a new pea plant in Lincolnshire in the east of England.
The Liverpool-based company, behind brands such as Princes canned meat and fish, Napolina oils and Crosse & Blackwell soups, saw the Long Sutton plant open this week.
Princes, owned by Japanese conglomerate Mitsubishi Corp., said the facility represents its largest ever capital investment.
Long Sutton is the firm’s largest food production site in the UK, producing a range of canned products including peas, pulses, beans, bean meals, fruits and canned-ready meals.
Andy Hargraves, programme director at Princes, said: “This is a hugely significant milestone in our GBP80m investment programme at Long Sutton, and we are very pleased to have delivered the new pea plant both ahead of schedule and in time for the start of the busy pea season in Lincolnshire.
“Our development programme is providing state of the art equipment, better energy efficiency and increased production at the site, and is a major part of our commitment to UK manufacturing and providing long-term, high quality employment opportunities in the area.”
The on-going investment project at Long Sutton is set to continue over a two year period, during which the factory will remain fully operational. The project will involve the refurbishment and development of significant aspects of the site including a new raw material warehouse and handling facility, new ingredients processing kitchen and a flexible production line for canned-ready meals.
A further GBP17m, taking the total to GBP80m, is being invested in capital projects over the same period, including a replacement hydrostat cooker, a soft water plant and new anaerobic digester.
Last October Princes blamed “unprecedented market conditions” when it announced plans to close its factory at Chichester in southern England.
The company said it was it is making the move, impacting 200 employees, to “future-proof” its business.
Eight months earlier Princes had announced that it was holding a business review.