Report: Pet food facility openings meet rising demand

Several pet food companies have announced or completed greenfield and expansion projects totaling $1.5 billion over the last 18 months.

2 Lisa Selfie December 2020 Headshot
Purina's Eden, North Carolina, facility features several modern technologies which transform and enhance the overall production process.
Purina's Eden, North Carolina, facility features several modern technologies which transform and enhance the overall production process.
Nestlé Purina PetCare

According to Cascadia Capital's Summer 2024 Pet Industry Overview, recent facility openings and expansion projects are supporting increased demand and expansion in the pet food industry.

In the past 18 months, pet food companies of all sizes have announced or completed new facilities or expansions in the U.S., investing over $1.5 billion. According to the report, key reasons for new facilities and expansions include:

  • Increasing capacity to meet demand
  • Expanding capabilities into new products like wet food and freeze-dried options
  • Strengthening internal supply chains after COVID-19 disruptions

Three companies invest over $200 million each in facility projects

Hill’s Pet NutritionNestlĂ© Purina PetCare and Blue Buffalo/General Mills have invested over $200 million each in recent facility projects within the U.S.

  • Hill's Pet Nutrition opened its $450 million, 365,000 square foot, fully-designed smart facility in October 2023. Designed to increase the company's production capacity for canned pet food and provide a runway for continued expansion of Hill's Science Diet and Prescription Diet brands, the facility marks a step-change in strategic automation and technological advancements in the pet food industry.
  • Purina's $450 million, 1.3-million-square-foot 'factory of the future' opened in Eden, North Carolina, in March. The Eden facility will produce a variety of Purina's pet food brands, including Purina Pro Plan, Purina ONE, Dog Chow, Puppy Chow, and more. The facility features several modern technologies which transform and enhance the overall production process, including the first-ever vertical dryer installed in a Purina U.S. factory as well as automated systems in warehousing and the freezer space. The new facility also features a first-of-its-kind Manufacturing Experience Center, designed to introduce modern manufacturing to the next generation of workforce.
  • Purina also expanded its production facility in Jefferson, Wisconsin, with a $195 million project that will increase production of wet pet food brands, including Pro Plan, Fancy Feast and Beneful IncrediBites, by nearly 50%. The project added 35,000 square feet to the facility.
  • Blue Buffalo, a subsidiary of General Mills, began a $200 million expansion project at its Richmond, Indiana, facility in March 2023. The project, expected to be completed by the end of 2024, will include constructing and equipping a 169,000-square-foot addition to expand its processing operations and warehouse capacity. The expansion will increase the building’s footprint by more than 40% by adding another extruder line, three new packaging lines and an associated mix-and-transfer system. 

It should be noted that Purina is also currently constructing a $550 million, 1.3 million-square-foot operation -- the first project Purina has constructed from the ground up since 1975 -- in Williamsburg Township, Ohio. The new facility, which will produce dry pet food, was designed with the latest innovation in digital and automated technologies to streamline production and logistics and make operations as efficient as possible.

Other U.S. facility projects

  • FreshPet announced a facility expansion in Ennis, Texas, because of increased fresh pet food demand.
  • Muenster Milling completed its new freeze-dried pet food facility in Denton, Texas, in March. The vertically-integrated facility includes raw meat processing capabilities that can produce a variety of protein blends and nutritional profiles, state-of-the-art freeze drying, and turnkey retail packaging in many sizes.
  • Mars Petcare announced a $72 million facility expansion in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
  • Crumps' Naturals, based in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, announced an $85 million pet treat facility expansion in Nashville, North Carolina, in March. 

Global investments also on the table

Globally, companies continue to invest in facility capital projects to increase capacity and capabilities. Notably, Purina announced in February a HUF 300B new facility in Buk, Hungary, which is considered the largest investment in the food industry in Hungary. Construction began in January and is expected to be completed in 2025. 

In April, the company announced it's investing $507 million to open a pet food factory in Mantua, Italy. The 1.9 million-square-foot plant, located about 100 miles southeast of Milan, will produce wet pet food, is scheduled to be completed by 2027 and will employ 300 people. Purina is also making a strategic investment of $220 million to expand its plant in Silao, Guanajuato, aimed at significantly enhancing its manufacturing capabilities in Mexico.

In May, Mars announced $140 million investment in its French sites to increase production capacity across its four French units – the two pet care arms of Mars Petcare and Royal Canin, as well as Mars Food and the confectionery-focused Mars Wrigley. The company also announced it began production at its pet food factory in Tianjin, China. The $138 million, 1.1 million-square-foot factory is dedicated to the research, development and production of dry food, wet food and treats. Once fully operational, the facility's annual production capacity is expected to exceed 250,000 tons.

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