FRANKLIN, TENN. — Mars Petcare announced Sept. 22 plans to invest an additional $117 million in its wet pet food manufacturing facility in Fort Smith, Ark. The company announced a $145 million investment in the same facility in January.

The company cited increased demand for its wet products as the primary driver of this latest investment. According to Mars Petcare, wet pet food sales in the United States are up 18% year-to-date compared to 2020.

This investment will add two new production lines — bringing the total to four production lines — and support the construction of a new 47,000-square-foot warehouse in Fort Smith. It will also allow the company to update existing equipment. All this is expected to increase production capacity at the plant by more than 75%, upping its output to more than 1 billion meals annually.

"Pet parents are at the center of everything we do, and at Mars Petcare, we're committed to answering their evolving needs as a trusted partner for pet parents," said Ikdeep Singh, regional president of Mars Pet Nutrition North America. "The role of pets in our lives has grown even stronger during the pandemic, and our latest investment in Fort Smith enables us to deepen our commitment to our associates and the City of Fort Smith while also living our purpose: A BETTER WORLD FOR PETS."

The facility expansion is expected to create more than 140 new jobs in the area, adding to the more than 120 new jobs expected from its January expansion.

"This investment is more great news for Fort Smith and further underscores Mars' commitment to the community,” said Senator John Boozman. “I'm pleased the company continues to recognize the value in betting on our workforce and economic climate, and that more jobs for hardworking Arkansans will now be available in the region. I extend my congratulations to all the leaders and partners who made this day possible.”

Mars Petcare has invested a total of $540 million in its Fort Smith facility since it was first opened in September 2009. The facility was Mars Petcare’s first LEED manufacturing site in the state of Arkansas and its first LEED-certified pet care plant. It currently employs roughly 370 people.

"In January, I was pleased to join company leadership and local officials to celebrate Mars Petcare's growth in Fort Smith," said Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson. "And here we are – only nine months later – celebrating yet another expansion at the company's Fort Smith facility. I commend Mars Petcare for its commitment to our state and its tireless efforts to serve families by providing our pets with the highest quality products."

All phases of this latest expansion are expected to be completed in 2023.

"The Chamber and the Mars Petcare leadership team have partnered together since 2007, from the development of the original facility to working on its tremendous growth in western Arkansas over the years,” commented Tim Allen, president and chief executive officer of the Fort Smith Regional Chamber of Commerce. “We're fortunate to have a world-class company like Mars Petcare in our backyard and proud to support its purpose-driven business.”

Mars Petcare manufactures CESAR, SHEBA, NUTRO, IAMS and CRAVE brands in Fort Smith.

Read more about new facilities and expansion plans announced by pet food and treat manufacturers from January to August 2021.