- Pet food maker Hill’s Pet Nutrition recently opened its $450 million manufacturing facility in Tonganoxie, Kansas.
- The new 365,000-square-foot facility will produce Hill’s Prescription Diet and Science Diet wet pet food in various can sizes, Chad Sharp, Hill’s Pet Nutrition director of manufacturing for the Tonganoxie plant, told Manufacturing Dive in an email.
- The new smart factory, which created over 100 jobs, intends to shorten Hill’s production cycle and digitalize its current system and processes, the company said in the release.
The wet pet food market is estimated to be worth $25.5 billion this year and is expected to reach $31.7 billion by 2028, according to consulting firm Markets and Markets. In turn, Hill’s Pet Nutrition is looking to leverage its new facility as an avenue for growth and innovation in the segment.
“[Wet pet food] is a segment that continues to grow around the world in a segment that we are under-indexed in,” Noel Wallace, chairman, president and CEO of the pet food maker’s parent company, Colgate-Palmolive, said at Barclays Global Consumer Staples Conference last month.
The Tonganoxie wet pet food plant is Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s most advanced and automated facility, Wallace said. The smart factory includes AI to power an upgraded digital food safety system, automation and robotic devices, improved food safety systems and end-to-end digital process and safety monitoring.
“Hill’s will utilize technology to work alongside Hill’s staff and a new state-of-the-art Mission Control Center to provide unprecedented visibility and monitoring through every aspect of pet food making from ingredient intake to final packaging,” Sharp said in a statement.
The production process from ingredient mixing to container filling is now entirely blocked off to prevent food exposure to outside contamination.
The facility also has a water reclamation system that treats and recycles the plant’s wastewater to be repurposed for future use, according to the release. The feature is part of Colgate-Palmolive’s goal to reduce energy, water and waste at its facilities.
Colgate-Palmolive has been investing in expanding Hill’s manufacturing capacity in the U.S. and overseas. Last year, the New York-based conglomerate spent $700 million to acquire three facilities in South Carolina, Oklahoma and Ohio from Red Collar Pet Foods.
Hill’s also acquired a plant in Italy, making the site the pet maker’s first canned manufacturing facility in Europe.