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Richland getting $200M french fry plant

ConAgra Foods Inc. is investing $200 million to construct a new french fry processing line at its Lamb Weston Richland facility, 2013 Saint St.

It is the largest private investment in the Tri-Cities for the year to date and easily eclipses the $39 million AutoZone warehouse center under construction near Pasco’s King City truck stop.

The investment in LambWeston comes just months before it is slated to become an independent, publicly-traded company. In November, ConAgra (NYSE: CAG) announced it would spin off its frozen potato subsidiary in fall 2016. A ConAgra spokeswoman said that process is ongoing.

Construction has begun on the project, which apparently includes both a building and new equipment. It is adjacent Lamb Weston’s existing french fry processing line in Richland, where Lamb Weston employs about 500 people.

The company has an additional 70 workers at its Richland technology center, where it develops new products. A third facility for customers debuts later this month.

The new line will employ 128 when it debuts.

ConAgra said growing worldwide demand for frozen potato products is driving the expansion. Demand is expected to grow by 2.6 billion pounds by 2020, according to Euromonitor data cited by ConAgra.

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