Allens expansion good for sweet potato growers

SILOAM SPRINGS, Ark. — Allens Inc., the largest privately held vegetable company in the U.S., announced upcoming expansions in Van Buren, Ark., and Oakfield, N.Y., and a new plant acquisition in Ft. Worth, Texas.

The Texas acquisition provides a platform to continue to aggressively grow canned business in Texas, the Southwest and West. The Arkansas expansion will increase the company’s total capacity on canned sweet potatoes. The New York expansion will help the company to continue to capitalize on frozen vegetable success in the Northeast as well as canned vegetables.

The Ft. Worth acquisition from ConAgra Foods consists of a plant that formerly packed ranch style beans. A 200,000-square-foot acquisition, the state-of-the-art plant sits on 20 acres of land and will now serve as a strategic distribution point for Allens to better serve customers. Additionally, it will provide more than 100 positions, thereby boosting the local economy with an estimated $4.7 million dollar plant improvement by 2011.

With a current presence of three frozen vegetable operations in upstate New York and unprecedented success in the northeast with frozen vegetables, Allens will add a $2.2-million canned vegetable operation in Oakfield. This new operation will begin production with sweet peas in June 2010, followed by green beans, corn and beets, as well as many dry pack bean products.

“Last year marked a record-breaking year of sweet potato sales for Allens,” said Bobby D. Ray, senior vice president of retail sales and marketing, Allens Inc. “Now with the $13.5-million expansion of the company’s plant in Van Buren, Ark., it is expected that we will grow our total sweet potato capacity even more than ever. Allens long standing relationships from growers of sweet potato crops from Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi will ensure the company will continue to meet our growing customers needs.” Allens sweet potato brands include Princella, Sugary Sam, and Trappey’s.

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