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Fred Searle

BY FRED SEARLE

Albert Bartlett to open chilled potato plant

Supplier secures contract with one of the big four for upcoming prepared range

Albert Bartlett to open chilled potato plant

Company chairman Ronnie Bartlett (left) with Sally Bee and Andrew Fairlie at the opening of the new development kitchen

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Albert Bartlett is venturing further into the prepared potato market with the development of several chilled potato products.

Having already entered the frozen potato market in 2015, the potato supplier is now set to open a new chilled plant at the company headquarters in Airdrie in September.

Creating 50 new jobs, the factory will have capability to process 50,000t of potatoes for sale at retail and foodservice. This equates to roughly a third of the current total prepared market.

Albert Bartlett confirmed it had already won a three-year contract with one of the big four supermarkets for its new range, but preferred not to specify which.

As well as buttery mash, the plant is likely to produce other dishes such as cheesy mash, root veg mash and Colcannon.

Potatoes for the new products will be supplied by Albert Bartlett’s group of 85 growers, with producers in Scotland accounting for around 90 per cent of the potatoes used.

Earlier this year, the Scottish government awarded Albert Bartlett a Food Processing, Marketing and Co-operation grant of £4m, contributing to the construction of the new prepared factory.

In addition, a development kitchen was opened last week by TV chef Sally Bee and Andrew Fairlie, chef and patron of Scotland’s only two Michelin star restaurant at the Gleneagles Hotel. The kitchen will allow recipe testing and development for the whole business.

Supported also by additional investment from HSBC, the move represents a major development for the potato producer, which processes a fifth of the fresh potatoes sold in the UK.

Mark Murray, managing director of Albert Bartlett’s added value business commented: “We are grateful for this grant from the Scottish government, which is essential in allowing the company to diversify into the growing convenience and chilled potato market. 

“Our development into this exciting new area will create 35 new jobs and safeguard 50 more here in Airdrie, in addition to providing security for our partners working in the entire supply chain, not least our dedicated group of potato growers. 

“When the plant is operational, it will process 50,000t of potatoes per year, around 90 per cent of which will be grown in Scotland.”

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