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Lending Russia a hand.

Lending Russia a Hand

While there are plenty of potatoes in the former Soviet Union and other former East bloc countries, McCain has no immediate plans to sow any joint venture seeds behind the fallen Iron Curtain outside of eastern Germany. It prefers to first see market economies evolve before investments are made.

"We've taken a look at Hungary, Poland and Czechoslovakia. Of the three, Hungary is probably readier to have a go than the other two. And Poland is certainly not far behind in terms of opportunity," said George E. McClure, vice president of corporate development.

But when McDonald's Restaurants of Canada brought MacFries to Russia with the official opening of its first restaurant, McCain Foods was there behind the scenes to ensure the very highest quality.

The Moscow McDonald's immediately became the most famous of all the more than 11,200 McDonald's restaurants around the world. Russian citizens suffering from a Big Mac Attack crowded the streets at Alexander Pushkin Square and established a McDonald's opening day record of 30,000 meals served. The 700 seat, 2,200 square meter restaurant became the largest ever opened by McDonald's.

The joint venture between McDonald's of Canada and Moscow city council's food service administration was an immediate and outstanding success, but it took years of effort and months of concentrated preparation.

Experts were brought in from around the world to ensure uniform standards and highest quality. McCain Foods, as the world's foremost producer of french fries, accepted the key role of making sure the potatoes for McDonald's MacFries were everything they should be.

Han van den Hock, McCain's manager of International Agronomy Projects, selected from four farms (sovchozes) on which the Russet Burbank potatoes (from seed supplied by McCain from Holland) were grown. He handled all the preparatory work in 1988 and '89 for the project. During 1989 he spent at least a week of each month in the Soviet Union.

An agronomist with McCain Foods in Holland lived on a Soviet farm to supervise the growing, harvesting and storage of prime Russet Burbank potatoes to meet McDonald's needs.

In the potato fields, 130 kilometers from Moscow, he taught new and better growing and harvesting techniques that allowed local farmers to double the average Soviet potato yield per acre. The potatoes were sometimes harvested by hand the first year to meet the stringent quality specifications.

At the same time, Victor Saenko, a Soviet citizen and production manager of the McDonald's french fry plant in Moscow, was specially trained by McCain Foods at its potato processing plant in Lewedorp. Finishing his training in November 1989, he returned to the Soviet Union with the knowledge and expertise to produce MacFries to the high standard required.

Since January 1990 McCain production management from Continental Europe has traveled to Moscow for weeks at a time to set line parameters and, together with McDonald's potato specialist, help local production people make the best possible product.

Senior McCain management also traveled on several occasions to the Soviet Union to ensure that the company's effort on behalf of McDonald's was kept on track. These ranged from McCain Produce Chairman Tony van Leersum and George McClure to Chairman of the Board Harrison McCain.
COPYRIGHT 1991 E.W. Williams Publications, Inc.
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Copyright 1991 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Special Section: Canada's International Frozen Food Company; McCain Foods Ltd. to help McDonald's in Moscow make MacFries
Publication:Quick Frozen Foods International
Date:Oct 1, 1991
Words:535
Previous Article:In the forefront down under.
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