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McCain Foods is Celebrating 50 Years in Scarborough!

The company, which employs over 600 people in the area, is the UK’s number one brand of frozen potato products.

Opening a factory in Scarborough was a brave move for the McCain brothers, who previously only operated in their home country of Canada. But with their pioneering spirit and the support of Mac McCarthy, they set foot on a new venture, opening a factory in Scarborough, in March of 1969.

Five decades on, the family-owned business now has a global footprint, with sales in over 160 countries and a team of 21,000 colleagues. In the UK, they now have five production facilities, a seed potato business in Montrose, Scotland, and a sales office in Ireland.

McCain is now investing significantly in its Scarborough factory, securing their operations in the area for generations to come.  


Hear about McCain’s History

In 1957, the four McCain brothers founded McCain Foods in their hometown of Florenceville, in New Brunswick, Canada. They initially grew potatoes, which led them to pioneer the first ever frozen French Fry!

One of the brothers, Harrison McCain, had first met Mac McCarthy in the early 1960s when he came to the UK to sell surplus peas that he’d farmed in Canada. At the time, Mac was production director at Eskimo Foods in Grimsby. Together, they launched McCain frozen French fries in the UK in the mid ‘60s, and the positive sales led to them building a production facility in Scarborough.

The Scarborough site remains McCain’s UK Head Office and has become one of the area’s largest employers. With four other production sites across the country, McCain has grown to have over 100 products in the retail, out of home and quick service restaurant sectors, and is proud to be the nation’s number one frozen potato brand.

The retail brand that you’ll be familiar with can often be seen on prime-time TV, thanks to the company’s sponsorship of Emmerdale, and it’s ongoing ‘We Are Family’ campaign, that celebrates the diversity of British families across the UK, all enjoying McCain products at mealtimes.

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McCain 50 years - page tag - march 2019 04


Hear from Scarborough's Longest Serving McCain Employee

McCain has a number of longstanding employees in the UK – some of whom have been with the business for more than 40 years! Here’s an interview with their longest serving Scarborough employee.

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What’s your name?

Sue Brownbridge


How long have you worked at McCain Foods?

45 years! I started in 1973, straight from school as an Accounts Assistant.  I’ve had a variety of roles, working in finance for over 36 years and nearly 10 years in the cold and dry stores.


Best Job so far?

My most enjoyable job was working in the cold and dry stores.  It was here I met my partner whilst working in -25 degrees, you could say ‘it started with a chill’!


What was it like back in 1973, when you joined the company?

We didn’t have computers, electric calculators, no direct dial telephones or faxes. We shared telephones and outside calls went through a switchboard and in 1974 we got our first computer which was the size of six four-draw filing cabinets.


Your proudest moment?

Being shortlisted for the McCain Global Community Heroes award for my volunteering outside of work.


Where do you live?

I’m lucky to live just a stone’s throw away from the site on Havers Hill.


What’s your favourite product?

Skin On Fries


Working in Partnership with Potato Growers

As the largest purchaser of British potatoes, McCain works in close partnership with 250 potato growers across the UK – some of whom they’ve worked with for three generations. Watch this video to hear from potato farmer, Dave Pick.  


Proud to be Part of the Local Community

team mccain - celebrating 50 years - scarborough


McCain is committed to supporting our local community - from the work they do with Cayton Parish Council on events like the Cayton Bonfire Display and Cayton Gala, to their 10-year sponsorship of the famous McCain Yorkshire Coast 10k, to supporting hundreds of youngsters in being active through Scarborough RUFC’s Active Youth Scheme, to donating product to The Rainbow Centre.

The company also has a grant scheme that supports its employees who volunteer with local community organisations and charities, including Scouts groups, Saint Catherine’s, Scarborough and Ryedale Mountain Rescue, Scalby Sports Association, Animal House Birds of Prey and many more!

Watch the video below to learn more about their partnership with Scarborough RUFC.