Simplot spud processing plant closures delayed
By John O’Connell
ABERDEEN, Idaho — J.R. Simplot has again delayed the scheduled closures of Idaho potato processing plants in Aberdeen and Nampa, citing stronger-than-expected demand by customers.
Simplot spokesman David Cuoio said layoffs at the Aberdeen plant are scheduled to occur on Sept. 2, or within 13 days thereafter. The Nampa plant’s scheduled closing date has been pushed back to Oct. 31, though Cuoio said there’s a possibility that the plant’s operating packaging area may remain open for another 30 days after the closure.
Another plant has already been demolished in Caldwell, and the three plants have been replaced by a single, new Caldwell facility.
The Aberdeen and Nampa closures were initially planned for this spring.
“Customer orders have been unexpectedly high, and we are keeping the plants open longer to help fill those orders,” Cuoio said.
The new plant will be staffed by 300 workers, with a net loss of about 750 employees. Cuoio said some of the Aberdeen and Nampa workers have transferred to the new facility.
Cuoio said 127 hourly and 13 salaried employees are still working in Aberdeen. Figures weren’t available for Nampa.
He said there are still no good leads on what will happen with the plants after they’re closed..
The Aberdeen plant opened in 1973. Simplot bought the Aberdeen plant from Nestle in 2000. Simplot opened its Caldwell site for dehydrating potatoes in 1941 and converted it for frozen potato processing in the early 1950s.
Aberdeen Mayor Morgan Anderson said the city has hired one Simplot worker for a municipal job. He said the company hasn’t kept him in the loop about future plans for the facility and he’s received sparse details on the company’s decision making.