August 26, 2020

Penobscot McCrum opens new Maine potato processing facility

Growing potatoes in northern Maine is nothing new to the McCrum family.

However, opening North America’s newest fry processing plant during COVID-19 was something the McCrum family was not expecting when they started planning for expansion in early 2019.

With six generations of farming in Aroostook County, the McCrum family started processing their own potatoes in Belfast, Maine, in 2004 after purchasing Penobscot Frozen Foods. This acquisition made them one of the largest suppliers of specialty potato products in North America. As the business grew, opening a fry plant was the natural next step.

From left, Don Flannery of the Maine Potato Board, Jay McCrum, Jason Wollard and Wade McCrum of Penobscot McCrum and County Super Spuds during early construction of the new facility in Washburn, Maine, in August 2019. Photo: Spudman

The new facility in Washburn started processing in late June 2020 and has contracted in excess of one million hundredweight (cwt) of potatoes to get the plant up and running through 2020. The plant has capacity to use a substantial percentage of the Maine potato crop on an annual basis.

“We are in the business of producing natural, quality potatoes, and potato products from farm to fork,” said Jay McCrum, CEO and fourth-generation farmer, through a press release. “Maine is known for its natural resources across the country, and we take great pride in ensuring that quality experience is enjoyed wherever our potatoes are served.”

With their unique position in owning the complete potato supply chain from fields to distribution, McCrum gets to set and meet quality standards at each touch point in the process. A competitive advantage even the next generation of McCrums get excited talking about.

“Many fry processors work with hundreds of growers across a large region. By being able to grow our potatoes and work with select growers in our community, we can ensure top level quality throughout our product line,” said Dayna McCrum, business analyst and eldest of the McCrum sixth generation. “Adding fries to our product mix brings an incredible amount of value to our customers as well as those who have dedicated their livelihoods to the Maine potato industry.”

The McCrums credit the ability to open the new state of the art manufacturing facility to decades of good business decisions, great business partners and the sustainable region of their farming acreage.

“Not many people get the opportunity to open this kind of facility,” stated Jay McCrum. “For our family to see our potatoes come to life in this form, promote Maine and our fellow growers in this way, is something that we are really fortunate to do.”

While navigating the project’s completion through the coronavirus pandemic did lead to some challenges, completion for the facility was completed on time, and added job stability to the region when it was truly needed.

The McCrum family represents five generations of potatoes farmers who began in the small town of Mars Hill, Maine. Today, the family represents one of North America’s largest suppliers of superior, value-added potato specialty products. Their unique market position includes farming, transportation and manufacturing of their potatoes.

For more on Penobscot McCrum, visit the website.

Top photo courtesy of Paul Cyr.

Be sure to check out our other specialty agriculture brands

Organic Grower