Business & economy

Fry Foods to add up to 100 new jobs with new fryer line

ONTARIO – Fry Foods is slated to add another fryer line to its Ontario food processing plant by the end of the year.

The $1.5 million project was made possible in part with a $675,000 grant from Business Oregon, the state’s economic development office, according to Nathan Beuhler, the state agency’s communications and research manager.

According to an internal memo from Business Oregon, the new fryer line will add up to 100 new employees at the plant, increasing annual wages by approximately $2.2 million.

The total long-term costs for the fryer line project will be approximately $6 million, including cold storage and other expenses.

The estimated cost of the fryer line itself is $1 million. However, the additional fryer line requires a storage pond for wastewater from the fryer line to hold the water through the winter months. Landowners can use processed water on their acreage during the spring, summer and throughout parts of the fall, but cannot use it during the winter due to runoff water going into ditches. 

According to Business Oregon, the new fryer line will allow the company to ramp up production for a new product, frozen mozzarella cheese sticks, to sell to Lamb Weston. That company supplies frozen potato and appetizer supplies to restaurants and retailers.

Fry Foods executives declined to comment for this story.

The document notes that the new fryer line will allow Fry Foods to increase its sales to Lamb Weston by 2 million pounds annually, which equates to $4.4 million in value.

The internal Business Oregon document notes that Fry Foods is one of the country’s three largest national suppliers of battered and breaded appetizers. The food processing company sells its products nationally to food service companies and retailers, in addition to selling and shipping worldwide.

In 2015, Fry Foods, headquartered in Tiffin, Ohio, purchased Ontario’s 400,000-square-foot food processing facility. Business Oregon notes that Fry Foods has received more than $1.2 million in grants and forgivable loans since 2014 to expand its Oregon operation. The document pointed out that the company paid $10 million for the Ontario facility and has since invested an additional $12 million. According to Business Oregon, the facility now employs more than 250 people.

Business Oregon and Ontario have made efforts over the years to improve industrial development in Ontario to stay competitive with Idaho. The goal is to grow the region’s property tax base and increase job creation.

Fry Foods could install the new fryer line at its plant in Weiser, about 20 miles away from Ontario, but Business Oregon wrote that Fry Foods preferred to install the line in Ontario.

“Ensuring that Fry Foods expands in Ontario rather than a site in Idaho is in perfect alignment with these long-held goals,” Business Oregon wrote in the internal document.

Fry Foods was established in 1930 and has three locations across the country and the company had an estimated $150 million in sales last year, according to industry sources.

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