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Potato partners: Simplot to take over Ore-Ida manufacturing, buy Ontario plant

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The Ore-Ida foods HQ left Boise more the 20 years ago, but now the potato-based frozen food brand is coming back to the Treasure Valley.

Kraft Heinz and J. R. Simplot Company struck a multi-year deal, making Simplot the exclusive supplier and manufacturer of Ore-Ida products. Kraft Heinz still owns the Ore-Ida brand. 

Simplot said in a release it thinks it can grow the Ore-Ida brand.

“The Ore-Ida brand is well-known and loved, and we’re thrilled to help ensure the continued success of this iconic family favorite through our Kraft Heinz partnership,” Mark McKellar, president of Simplot’s Food Group said. “With our combined history of making and serving high-quality frozen potato products and our shared dedication to the communities where we operate and the customers we serve, we have a bright future in front of us.”

Ore-Ida is a national brand known for products including Tater Tots, crinkle fries, shredded hash browns, mashed potatoes, and more. Simplot’s products are not generally sold directly to consumers in the United States, but instead supplied to restaurants, cafeterias, and other businesses. While Simplot sells consumer brands in Australia, the move marks an expansion for Simplot into the consumer space in the US.

[From spuds to strawberries: Simplot’s new business venture]

Ore-Ida (short fore Oregon-Idaho) was founded in Ontario in 1949, and later established its headquarters in Boise. The HJ Heinz company bought it in 1965 but the headquarters remained in Idaho until 1999 when operations were folded into Heinz in Pennsylvania.

Simplot buys Ore-Ida’s Ontario plant

Ore Ida Tater Tots
A vintage Ore-Ida truck touting Tater Tots. Photo: Gibchan/CC-By 3.0

The agreement said that Kraft Heinz will transfer ownership of its Ontario, Oregon potato manufacturing facility to Simplot.

The Ontario facility has about 600 employees. The release says Simplot will offer positions to employees at the facility and will offer pay and benefits comparable to what Simplot employees in similar positions make.

“Consumer demand for our delicious Ore-Ida potato dishes remains high, proving there is substantial opportunity to grow the current portfolio of products while also introducing new and exciting foods from the brand,” said Renee Peets, senior vice president, North America Procurement at Kraft Heinz. “Today, Ore-Ida is approximately half a billion dollars in terms of net sales and we believe there’s still a lot of untapped growth.”

[Lamb Weston to launch major expansion of Idaho french fry processing plant]

The parties entered the agreement on February 22, and it is scheduled to be finalized this spring. 

Simplot will start supplying potatoes to Ore-Ida during the 2023/24 crop season. 

CNBC reported in 2019 that Kraft Heinz weighed selling the Ore-Ida brand, and Eagle-based Lamb Weston was a contender for a purchase. No deal came to fruition.

Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson - BoiseDev Reporter
Autum Robertson is a BoiseDev reporter focused on Meridian and McCall. Contact her at [email protected].

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