Cavendish owns 6,000 acres in Maine, said Mary Keith, vice president of communications for J.D. Irving Ltd., Cavendish’s parent company.
Keith would not say how much of that acreage is for the fresh market. Cavendish Farms grows potatoes for the frozen market, and its sister company, Cavendish Produce, grows potatoes and other vegetables on Prince Edward Island, Canada, for the fresh market, according to the J.D. Irving website.
On March 4, Cavendish officials met with Maine employees to inform them of “the indefinite suspension of farming operations due to market conditions,” Keith said.
That doesn’t mean, however, that Cavendish won’t plant potatoes in Maine in the future.
“Company officials confirmed that the land will not be sold and will be retained should market conditions improve and farming potatoes becomes a viable option into the future,” Keith said.
Shutting down its Maine operation for the season will not affect Cavendish’s support of the McLean, Va.-based Alliance for Potato Research and Education (APRE), Keith said.
Cavendish was one of five companies that partnered with the National Potato Council and the U.S. Potato Board in 2011 to create the not-for-profit organization. Other founding members are McCain Foods, ConAgra Foods Lamb Weston, H.J. Heinz Co./Ore-Ida and J.R. Simplot Co.
On March 31, Maureen Storey, APRE’s president, called Cavendish a “major contributor” and said she was not aware of any changes in the company’s support.
APRE was established to counter negative health information about potatoes in the media.