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Wallace McCain, co-founder of the McCain food empire, has died aged 81 (AP)

Wallace McCain, co-founder of the McCain food empire, has died aged 81 (AP)

Wallace McCain, co-founder of the McCain food empire, has died aged 81 (AP)

Staff are mourning the death of a "visionary and philanthropist" frozen food mogul who helped turn a small Canadian chip factory into a multibillion-pound business empire.

Wallace McCain, co-founder of McCain Foods and chairman of Maple Leaf Foods, died in Toronto after an 14-month battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 81.

A UK spokesman for the company, which produces more frozen chips than any other company in the world and has factories in Scarborough, Wombourne, Whittlesey, Grantham and Hull, said: "The employees of McCain Foods Limited were deeply saddened to learn of the death of our co-founder and friend, G. Wallace F. McCain."

McCain Foods GB employs more than 2,000 people in the UK.

Established in 1965, it now leads the UK retail and food service industries in frozen potato products.

McCain and his brother Harrison McCain founded New Brunswick, Canada-based McCain Foods Ltd in 1956, building it into one of the globe's largest frozen food companies which now operates in 44 countries.

President and CEO of McCain Foods Ltd Dale Morrison said: "Our thoughts and deepest sympathies are with Margaret and her family for their loss. Wallace is close to our hearts. He was a visionary, a philanthropist and an icon of Canadian business. To the employees of McCain, he was also our neighbour, friend, colleague and mentor.

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"His contributions to the success of McCain are immeasurable. He created many opportunities for many people. We will miss him. The best way I can think of to honour his memory is to continue building on the legacy he left behind. The spirit of our founders will continue to live within all that we do."

In From the Ground Up, the 2007 book commemorating the 50th anniversary of McCain Foods Ltd, Wallace wrote of building the company with his brother Harrison.

He said: "We were two young guys, eager to have a business we could call our own, eager to succeed. We never really started out with grandiose ambitions. We used to think just maybe we could build a business that might make a million dollars. And we never really did it for the money. We just thought business was fun - it was a game and a challenge. We liked building things, and we loved the people we worked with. That's why we did what we did."


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