HARTWELL, Ga. — After two years and a $320 million investment, Nestlé Purina PetCare has officially opened its 21st US-based pet care product manufacturing facility in Hartwell. The investment marks the largest investment by the company in a North or South American pet product plant over the last 10 years, as well as its first new US facility in more than 20 years.
Purina will produce its wet pet food brands, such as Fancy Feast, Purina ONE and Pro Plan, at the new Hartwell plant and primarily serve the southeastern pet care market. The Hartwell facility will run two 12-hour production shifts in a continuous rotation, according to John Bear, vice president of manufacturing at Purina.
“The pet care category is strong, and Purina is in a position of strength to continue delivering products that are high quality, nutritious and innovative. The growth of the wet cat food category in particular, and demand for Purina pet foods, led to our expansion in Hartwell,” Bear said.
Plans for the Hartwell facility were announced in 2017. Purina purchased a vacant building that was previously a textile plant, gutted and renovated it to fit its production needs, then installed modern equipment and technology to facilitate its high food safety and quality standards.
The company began distributing out of Hartwell in May 2018. Bear said the distribution facility was already operational when Purina purchased it, which allowed the company to balance its total network and better serve its customer base in the southeast US.
Purina currently employs nearly 200 people in Hartwell but expects to increase that number to around 240 by 2023 as more expansions and production lines are added, Bear said. Hartwell employees will be able to bring their pets to work and have access to a dog park on the manufacturing campus, the company said.
Purina currently operates a pet food manufacturing facility in Fairburn, Georgia, which is about 130 miles southwest of Hartwell and employs 350 people.
“As one of the nation’s leading pet food companies, Purina’s expansion into Hartwell and continued commitment in Fairburn are creating exciting opportunities for hardworking Georgians and their families, and I am grateful for their investment in our state,” said Georgia Governor Brian P. Kemp.
Environmental stewardship is a key component of the new plant. Purina will employ water conservation and treatment methods in its operations and hopes to use 100% renewable electricity “in the near future.” Additionally, the company is zero-waste-to-landfill, utilizing composting, recycling and energy recovery streams to reduce its operational footprint.
Purina pledged to benefit the Hart County community and their pets by supporting local shelters, education initiatives, hunger relief and other civic causes, such as funding pet-friendly domestic violence shelters through its Purple Leash Project with Red Rover. During the opening ceremony, Purina donated $20,000 to the Northeast Georgia Council on Domestic Violence (NGCDV) in support of that project.
“We believe it’s important to support the communities where we live and work, particularly when it benefits pets and the people who love them,” said Nina Leigh Krueger, Purina President.
Bear explained that Purina chose Hartwell because it “hit all the marks,” including a vast distribution network to the southeast region, a vacant property with a strong foundation that fit its pet food process, and a community that shares its values.
Purina has big plans for its Hartwell manufacturing facility, including a new technology platform and new products to be produced exclusively at that location. Additionally, the company is working on some big picture plans to support a successful future for its brands in the US, according to Bear.
“Purina is investing across our US footprint, including several large-scale expansions,” Bear said. “For example, we’re investing more than $115 million in our Bloomfield, Missouri, Tidy Cats factory to expand production capacity and capabilities, and we just completed an expansion at our Allentown, Pennsylvania, factory, which produces wet pet food.”
Laurent Freixe, CEO for Nestlé’s North and South Americas zone, concluded: “Purina is in a position of strength for long-term sustainable growth and this investment in Hartwell demonstrates Nestlé’s commitment to continually innovate and shape the future of pet care.”
Read more about pet food processing operations on our Operations page.