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Posted on Nov 19, 2015

ConAgra eyes split with potato processor Lamb Weston

ConAgra Foods wants to spin-off its spuds.

The $15 billion food conglomerate said Tuesday it will spin-off its potato and veggie processing division Lamb Weston to become a separate company. The split is expected to be final next autumn and include the Lamb Weston plant in Quincy.

The split will allow each company to do what it does best,” said ConAgra spokesman Jon Harris. “It’s a win-win situation for the companies, employees and shareholders.”

That means the new company, called Lamb Weston, would focus on delivering nearly $3 billion annually in potatoes and potato products directly to the restaurant industry. The 65-year-old company has introduced products such as Twister Fries (a type of curly fries), CrissCut Fries (a cross-hatched french fry) and processes millions of pounds of potatoes annually into various brands of frozen fries.

Harris said no decisions have been made about any changes in products or direction for the new company.

With more than 400 employees, the company’s processing plant in Quincy has operated under the Lamb Weston name since 1966. Lamb Weston also has plants in Connell, Hermiston, Oregon, and American Falls, Idaho, along with joint ventures in Europe.

The remaining ConAgra company, called ConAgra Brands, would focus on selling consumer brands to grocery stores. Those brands include Hunt’s, Marie Callender’s, Ro-Tel, Chef Boyardee, Orville Redenbacher’s, P.F. Chang’s, Slim Jim, Healthy Choice and others.

The announcement marks the third time this year that the company has pared down its core operations. In October, it announced a plan to cut $300 million in annual costs that included 1,500 layoffs and the moving of its headquarters to Chicago from Omaha, Neb. Earlier this month, ConAgra sold its private-label business, Treehouse Foods, for $2.7 billion.

 

— By Mike Irwin, Wenatchee World

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