ACHESON, Alberta — Champion Petfoods cut the ribbon at NorthStar kitchens, its newest state-of-the-art pet food manufacturing facility, in Alberta, Canada on Jan. 23. The 426,000-sq.-ft. facility sits on 75 acres in Parkland County. Both ACANA and ORIJEN brands will be produced at the facility, which is expected to expand the company’s capabilities in fresh meat inclusions and regional ingredient sourcing.

“Alberta’s world-class suppliers, skilled labour force and friendly investment climate provides Champion the opportunity to continue to invest and grow here at home," said Blaine McPeak, CEO of Champion, during the ribbon cutting ceremony.

NorthStar will run three dry pet food production lines and include a full, on-site distribution warehouse and logistics center, according to Champion. The company exports its brands to more than 100 countries around the world.

The facility is capable of producing up to 145 million kilograms (approximately 300 million lbs.) of dry pet food annually. Dry pet food is the initial focus of the facility, but Champion has left room to expand its kibble production and add freeze-drying capabilities for pet food and treats in the future.

“With the NorthStar Kitchen now complete and operational, Champion Petfoods is ready to take on new opportunities,” said Tanya Fir, Canada's minister of economic development, trade and tourism. “Tremendous benefits will result from Champion’s presence in Alberta for many, many years to come. Our government looks to the future with confidence, optimism, and great anticipation of Champion Petfoods’ continued success.”

Gray, a construction and design partner of Champion Petfoods, posted several videos showing the progress made during NorthStar's construction up until November 2019.

Food safety was top-of-mind when designing NorthStar; the facility features highly controlled product transfer, pneumatic conveying of dry ingredients, rooms separated by insulated walls, strategic air pressure systems throughout and an automated flush cleaning system in each critical kitchen area, according to Champion. 

The company disclosed several fresh ingredients to be sourced regionally for NorthStar’s production. These include ranch-raised beef, wild boar, bison, grass-fed lamb, Yorkshire pork, goat, turkey and chicken from Alberta; saltwater fish, rockfish, mackerel and herring from British Columbia; duck from Ontario and Quebec; and many other proteins, produce and oils from within Canada. 

“Champion has successfully marketed great, Alberta-made products in the highly competitive international pet food market,” added Devin Dreeshen, Canada's minister of agriculture and forestry. “Their commitment to sourcing local ingredients, providing local jobs, and supporting the local economy is outstanding.”

More than 200 employees will work at NorthStar, most of whom were transitioned from Champion’s Morinville plant. 

The company broke ground at the new NorthStar location in summer 2017 and the facility became operational in fall 2019. Construction of NorthStar took approximately 800,000 working hours and provided 375 jobs at its peak construction period.

The company also operates a pet nutrition research facility in Alberta. Its BAFRINO (Biologically Appropriate, Fresh Regional Ingredient and Never Outsourced) Research and Innovation Center is where Champion develops and fine-tunes its nutritional philosophy, supports fresh meat inclusion technology, develops natural palatants and tests nutrients in-house.

Learn more about Champion Petfoods’ history, nutritional philosophy and production in our exclusive company profile.

Read more about pet food processing operations on our Operations page.