BERN, Kan. — C.J. Foods, Inc. announced Feb. 17 an agreement to acquire American Nutrition, Inc. (ANI), creating one of the largest independent manufacturers of super premium pet food in the US. The two companies combined produce a total of 1 billion lbs. of pet food annually. The transaction is expected to close by April.

C.J. Foods is a custom manufacturer of specialty dry pet food for leading US super premium brands. The acquisition of ANI will enable C.J. Foods to offer a full portfolio of pet food and treats with national and international distribution. ANI manufactures super premium dry, canned and baked pet food and treat products.

David McLain, CEO of C.J. Foods, will join the combined C.J. Foods/ANI board of directors. Tod Morgan will be chairman of the board, and Bill Behnken, current president and CEO of ANI, will serve as a board member. Management is still in the process of determining how the two companies will be integrated going forward, including the name.

“This acquisition creates the leading manufacturer of super premium pet food with a national footprint, focused on producing and delivering the highest quality products to our customers,” Morgan said.

C.J. Foods has a rich 35-year history producing dry kibble for more than 40 of the top US super-premium and ultra-premium brands. C.J. Foods employs nearly 500 at its six processing plants — two in Pawnee City, Nebraska; two in Bern, Kansas; one in Baxter Springs, Kansas; and one in Brownwood, Texas — for a combined total of 620,000 sq. ft. of plant space from which the company produces nearly half a billion lbs. per year of extruded pet foods and treats.

“C.J. Foods and ANI are two world-class manufacturers with complementary capabilities that make the combination a win for our customers” Behnken said. “It truly enhances our ability to provide higher levels of innovation to meet the ever-evolving opportunities in premium pet nutrition.”

ANI is one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of super-premium dry, canned and baked pet food and treat products. ANI operates five manufacturing facilities in Washington, Utah and Pennsylvania. With more than 400 employees, the company serves numerous national brands as well as international brands in 17 countries. American Pet Nutrition (ANI Brands) is not part of the acquisition.

“CJF [C.J. Foods] is thrilled to be moving forward with ANI to strengthen our customer value proposition with a continued singular focus on innovation and food safety, leading the industry with on-trend products,” McLain said.

C.J. Foods is a portfolio company of J.H. Whitney Capital Partners, a Connecticut-based private equity firm that has owned C.J. Foods since 2014. The portfolio includes Lortscher Animal Nutrition, Inc. (LANI), a leader of custom milling and ingredient supply to the pet food industry for over sixty years, which was acquired in April 2018.

For an exclusive look at C.J. Foods’ pet food operations, read our processor profile and view a slideshow of its facilities.

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