McCain Foods, the Canada-based frozen potato products giant, is to invest more than €350m ($377.8m) in France to develop production facilities and strengthen its competitiveness there.

The company said it will invest more the amount by 2028 in its three production sites in Harnes and Béthune villages in Pas-de-Calais and Matougues village in the Marne region.

The Canadian group said it aims to step up its presence in France with the project and “anticipate the future needs of the French market”.

The company said the move a “strengthens the competitiveness and sustainability of its production facilities in France”.

The capex will be rolled out over a number of years, starting in early summer 2024. It will ultimately increase production capacity by almost 25%, said the group.

The step follows €125m worth of investment over rthe last eight years in its three production sites in the country.

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Today, the three sites process approximately 1m tons of potatoes per year, which the investment will increase to 1.3m tons.

The company currently produces 600,000 tons of finished products in France, which will grow to approximately 750,000 tons after the investment.

Alain Duranleau, regional president of McCain Continental Europe called the project “an unprecedented investment”.

He said: “This reflects both the group’s dynamism and the importance it attaches to France.

“By equipping our sites with state-of-the-art facilities to boost our production capacity and serve sustainability, we are reaffirming our commitment and the importance we attach to France and its regions.”

Max Koeune, CEO of the company  said the group intends to continue to grow in France.

He said the move “illustrates our commitment to all our partners in France: from our 800 partner farmers to our distributors, restaurateurs, customers, consumers and our 1,000 employees”.

The bulk of the funding, almost €300m, will go to the Harnes site.

The investment will enable the dehydrated [potato] puree flakes lines to be modernised and packaging capacity to be improved.

At the end of the second phase of investment, Harnes will also benefit from a new potato sorting and storage area, as well as a new production line.

The facility, established in 1981, was the group’s first in the country.

McCain said the capex plan also supports its sustainability objectives as it will reduce the Harnes site’s CO2 emissions by 50% and its water consumption per tonne of finished product by 30%.

The Béthune site will be allocated €30m for a new production line for potato specialities, while the Matougues site will see investment of around €25m to replace its fryer and add coating technology.

In France, the McCain has more than1,000 employees and partnerships with more than 800 farmers.