RALEIGH, NC. — Cardinal Foods LLC has announced plans to invest $15.5 million to expand its operations in Pender County, NC. The expansion, which will add production capacity for sweet potato french fries, will double the company’s current workforce to 96 from 48.

Founded in Burgaw, NC, in 2017, Cardinal Foods processes blueberries, sweet potatoes and butternut squash harvested primarily by North Carolina farmers. The company also provides product development, marketing and distribution services. The company’s foods are sold to both national consumer brands and leading grocery retailers.

“We are excited about the opportunity the future holds for Cardinal Foods and the region’s agriculture community,” said Corey Barnhill, president and chief executive officer of Cardinal Foods. “This expansion will close the gap in offering North Carolina growers a viable solution for processing their crops and open up global markets that were limited previously.”

Cardinal Foods said its current expansion involves the production of sweet potato french fries to fill growing market demand in the United States and abroad. The company plans to rely on raw materials supplied by farmers in North Carolina, which has led the nation in sweet potato production since 1971. In 2019, the state produced 2 billion lbs of sweet potatoes — about 61% of total US production, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

Cardinal Foods said it is set to receive a performance-based grant of $50,000 from the One North Carolina Fund to help facilitate the expansion.