Home of Beggin’ Strips, Tbonz, Beyond Wild, ProPlan Veterinary Diets, Friskies Party Mix and more, the Clinton plant is one of 20 Purina factories across the US, of which 14 are dedicated to producing pet food. The company’s philosophy is to source ingredients as close to each Purina processing plant as possible and manufacture product as close to where it’s sold as possible. Most core Purina brands are produced at multiple locations in order to uphold with this philosophy.
According to Purina — the St. Louis-based subsidiary of Nestlé — annual sales top $9.2 billion across the Americas and Purina products are in 75% of all pet owning households. The Clinton plant opened in 1969 and currently employs more than 350 people. This facility received $60 million in capital investment in the last five years and works closely with Purina’s technical services group to test new products before they are rolled out to other Purina production facilities. During the manufacturing tour in Clinton, Purina employees demonstrated how the company’s passion for safe products translates into day to day operations.
Quality checks by the thousands
To ensure the company is providing safe, quality products, Purina conducts more than 100,000 quality and safety checks daily across its entire footprint, integrated into each step of the process. The Clinton plant alone conducts 8,500 quality and safety tests in a typical day. Those tests start before ingredients enter the building. At the Clinton location, Purina is piloting the use of near-infrared reflectance (NIR) spectroscopy. It is a fast, cost effective process Purina uses for nutritional verification to ensure the incoming ingredients meet its pre-determined standards.
During the Purina event, Keith Singleton, president, Alaskan Leader Seafood, shared a little about the process the codfish supplier went through to become a Purina supplier. He said the seafood company had to adjust its processes to meet Purina’s testing, tracking and verifying requirements. Purina refers to the stringent evaluation of all ingredient suppliers as a forensic study of the supplying company. Purina believes it’s the company’s responsibility to leverage its scale to make the value chain better across the industry.
Demystifying the process
The Clinton plant manages 335 different ingredients. Every ingredient has a label and barcode and is registered to a location. During ingredient receiving and batching, 700 quality checks are conducted daily. As batches are mixed, extruded, cut, dried, coated, blended and cooled, 1,500 quality checks are performed per day. The majority of these processing steps occur on equipment custom-built by Purina, which utilizes the extrusion process to cook and shape the products. Once product is finished, more than 4,600 quality checks occur during packaging. Package sizes in Clinton range from ½ oz. to more than 50 lbs.
Samples are tested in the microbiology and chemistry labs and, daily, a team of four employees reviews the results from all quality and safety tests and conducts visual and sensory inspections of samples from each batch before product is released for distribution.
Bringing science and nutrition to life
Leveraging more than 500 scientists globally, over 300 patents and 90 years in pet care, Purina currently is focusing on five areas of pet health where the company believes it can make a difference — healthy metabolism, healthy early development, oral health, digestive and microbiome health with a focus on enhancing nutrient absorption and healthy aging. Recent advancements in non-invasive testing instruments that use saliva or fecal samples to provide fast results on full-gut flora have allowed innovations in gut biome and food ingredients to benefit the functionality of the pets’ biome and are helping Purina go beyond complete and balanced nutrition to help pets thrive.
According to Purina, science is only valuable if it’s successfully transferred to every bag, every bowl and every bite.
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