SEWARD, NEB. — Scoular announced Nov. 30 plans to invest $75 million into its Petsource by Scoular business for premium freeze-dried pet food ingredients, which will triple production capacity and create up to 80 new jobs in Seward.

The company aims to meet heightened demand for freeze-dried pet food proteins amid increased pet ownership across the United States and a continued trend toward premiumization and alternative pet food formats, including freeze-dried products.

“Pet owners have shown a steadily increasing desire for high-protein, nutrient dense, and raw nutrition pet food options when feeding their new family members,” said Amy Patterson, president of Petsource. “I’m thrilled that Petsource and the community of Seward can be part of the solution for our pet food customers seeking to meet the growing demand for freeze-dried pet food.”

The expansion will add 70,000 square feet to the existing facility and is slated for completion in early 2023. Petsource will begin hiring in phases as early as 2022 to fill new positions created by this expansion.

“This is a very dynamic time for our company and for our industry,” said Paul Maass, chief executive officer of Scoular. “We are excited about the opportunity to triple Petsource’s capacity to support our valuable customers’ growth plans. I’m confident that the talented team at Petsource will continue as a trusted partner for customers in the freeze-dried pet food industry, enabling their continued growth.”

At its Seward facility, Petsource is a turnkey partner for pet food manufacturers sourcing premium freeze-dried proteins. The company offers recipe development, raw meat processing, freeze-drying capabilities and packaging solutions for its pet food producing customers.

“At Petsource, we are fully committed in our passion to support the pet food marketplace, developing safe and high-quality products that protect our customers’ brands,” Patterson said.

According to PetSource, the freeze-drying process helps to maintain nutritional and palatability components and extends the shelf life of the ingredient without the need for added preservatives.

Market research firm NielsenIQ reported at Global Pet Expo in March 2021 that freeze-dried pet food formats are on the rise in the pet specialty channel. Freeze-dried pet food sales totaled $239.9 million in 2020, up 7% from 2019 sales and making up 2.8% of total pet food sales in the pet specialty channel. On average, these freeze-dried pet food products in this channel cost $32.45 per lb, making this format one of the most expensive options on the market.

Scoular first announced the creation of Petsource in March 2019, including an initial $50 million investment to construct a 105,000-square-foot freeze-drying facility in Seward, which became fully operational in November 2020. The facility currently employs just over 100 people.

“The Petsource facility in Seward has been a big success,” said Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts. “Only a year after opening, it’s already planning a major increase in capacity. This expansion will create more jobs as well as opportunities for Nebraska farmers and ranchers to supply chicken and beef to source the facility. Congratulations to Seward, and thanks to Scoular for choosing to grow here in the Good Life!”

Petsource is not the only pet-centric venture in which Scoular is currently invested. In June 2020, the company partnered with Montana Microbial Products to establish Emerge™, another business segment that will produce and market barley protein concentrate (BPC) for pet food and aquaculture feed in the North American and Asian markets. In August 2021, the company broke ground on a 14,400-square-foot facility in Oregon, where it will produce marine protein ingredients for pet food and aquaculture markets in partnership with Da Yang Seafoods and Bornstein Seafoods.

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