Albert Bartlett, the UK potato processing firm, has been awarded a GBP4m (US$5.5m) grant by the Scottish government.

It is the largest ever grant to be awarded by the government’s Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation (FPMC) body.

The company will use the money to diversify into the convenience and chilled potato market, creating 35 new jobs.

It will contribute to a GBP17m investment in a building extension and installation of new processing equipment to facilitate the introduction of new product lines – primarily chilled potato products. 

Scottish rural economy secretary Fergus Ewing said: “Today’s GBP4m announcement demonstrates our continued commitment to help food and drink companies, large and small, take their businesses to the next level while building on our reputation as a land of food and drink.”

Mark Murray, Albert Bartlett’s managing director, said: “Our development into this exciting new area will create 35 new jobs and safeguard 50 more here in Airdrie, in addition to providing security for our partners working in the entire supply chain, not least our dedicated group of potato growers.  

“When the plant is operational, it will process 50,000 tonnes of potatoes per year, around 90% of which will be grown in Scotland.”

This grant award scheme is part of the Scottish Rural Development Programme 2014-2020 and is jointly funded by the Scottish government and the European Union.