Kettle Foods, manufacturer of the best selling brand of natural potato chips in the US, has announced plans to build a new production facility in Beloit, Wisconsin, and expand its plant in Salem, Oregon.

Kettle expects the new plant, located in one of the strongest Russet Burbank potato growing regions in the Midwest, to process 50 million pounds of Russet potatoes a year. This will increase Kettle’s annual production capacity by 50%. Kettle emphasised that the new plant has been built with the environment in mind and that its location will reduce fuel use and costs.

Production capacity at Kettle’s Salem site will be increased by 30% after a US$2m investment in new fryers. Since 1999, the company has tripled its production capabilities.

The company says that expansion is necessary to meet the huge growth in demand, stating that sales for Kettle brand potato chips are up by nearly 50% in the past 12 weeks in the East coast where demand is strongest.

To manage this growth, the company has promoted Marc Cramer, formerly the GM of North American operations, to the position of global chief financial officer. Cramer will oversee the financial management of the company’s North American and European operations.