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J. R. Simplot Company
Founded 1929; Declo, Idaho
Headquarters Boise, Idaho
Key people
J. R. Simplot, Founder
Bill Whitacre, President and CEO
Scott R. Simplot, Chairman
Products frozen food processing, fertilizer manufacturing, cattle feeding, and other businesses related to agriculture
Number of employees
Slogan Bringing Earth's Resources to Life

The J. R. Simplot Company, commonly referred to as Simplot, was founded in 1929 by 14-year-old John Richard Simplot near the small agricultural community of Declo in south central Idaho. The business expanded due to high war profits serving the military dehydrated onions and potatoes during World War II. The firm was legally incorporated as the J. R. Simplot Company in 1955.

Simplot made billions from the commercialization of frozen french fries by one of its scientists, chemist Ray L. Dunlap. By the early 1970s it was the primary supplier of french fries to McDonald's; by 2005 it supplied more than half of all french fries for the fast food chain. Simplot also produces fertilizers for agriculture[1] the mining of which has been a cause of recent environmental concerns.

Simplot is now one of the largest privately owned companies in the world (ranked 59th in Private Companies by Forbes magazine in 2004) and has branches in Australia, Canada, Mexico, China, and several other regions. One of the major plants is in Caldwell, Idaho.

A view of the Simplot plant in Caldwell, Idaho, circa 1930-1945. The caption in the image states "World's Largest Dehydrating Plant."

J. R. Simplot retired as president of his company in 1973, but remained involved for many years. He stepped down as chairman of the board in 1994, and held the title of Chairman Emeritus until his death in 2008.


Since its founding, J. R. Simplot Company has contributed to numerous local organizations and causes, including Ronald McDonald House, Boys and Girls Clubs, Future Farmers of America, St. Luke’s Children’s Hospital, and the Special Olympics. Much of the company’s philanthropic efforts are directed by employees serving on the company’s volunteer service committee. Additionally, the Simplot Company has donated thousands of pounds of potatoes to the Idaho Foodbank and the Boise Rescue Mission. They have also provided monetary support for the arts throughout Idaho including Ballet Idaho, Opera Idaho, and the Boise Philharmonic.[2]

In 2009, Simplot Company was awarded the Spirit of Treasure Valley award by the United Way of Treasure Valley.[3]

Environmental record[edit]

In February 2002, Simplot agreed to buy equipment and pay penalties related to an unreported release of 80,000 pounds of sulfur dioxide from a facility in Pocatello, Idaho. The company violated the Emergency Planning and Community Right to Know Act by failing to immediately notify the Power and Bannock Counties' Local Emergency Planning Committees or the State Emergency Response Commission of the release.[4]

In February 2004, J.R. Simplot Company agreed to pay the United States Environmental Protection Agency $525,000 and install $2 million in air pollution control equipment to resolve violations of the federal Clean Air Act at its silica sand mining facility in Overton, Nevada. The violation occurred in 1988 when the company removed equipment required by the federal Clean Air Act to control emissions of air pollutants.[5]

In June 2005, J.R. Simplot agreed to pay a $4550 fine for violating the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act in a settlement with the EPA. The company was investigated for misbranded pesticide containers.[6]

In early 2012, Simplot submitted a report to the Environmental Protection Agency to explain its view regarding how and why pollution limits could be eased in phosphate mine areas, and linking to livestock die-offs of sheep and cattle in other areas.[7]

Simplot is one of six major companies to join the Obama Administration in an effort to significantly reduce energy use over the next 10 years. The company has received a number of awards, including the Utah Board of Oil, Gas and Mining's Earth Day award for the environmental work completed in Nevada.[8]

In June 2012, Simplot partnered with two conservation groups and three phosphate mining companies in an effort to improve the water quality of the Blackfoot River in Eastern Idaho. The parties are: J.R. Simplot Company, Monsanto and Agrium/Nu-West Industries, the Idaho Conservation League and Trout Unlimited.[9]

In June 2012, Simplot was strongly criticized and mocked on The Daily Show for dumping selenium that caused mutated fish in Idaho water, then trying to get the government to allow them to dump even more selenium. It was implied that they were manipulating elected officials and controlled the government in Idaho. Aasif Mandvi covered the story, pretending to make favorable statements about the company due to fear of violent or economic retaliation from it.[10]


  • Edgell (frozen vegetables)
  • Leggo's (Italian dishes)
  • Ally (salmon)
  • Seakist (tuna)
  • John West Foods (tuna)
  • Harvest (heat and eat)
  • Chiko Rolls
  • I&J (frozen meats)
  • Best Products (fertilizer)
  • Apex Polyon Products (fertilizer)
  • Jacklin Seed (grass seed)
  • Bird's Eye - Australia and New Zealand (frozen fish, vegetables, potatoes, and meals)
  • Innate (potatoes)

See also[edit]


External links[edit]