ATLANTA – Kent Nutrition Group’s feed mill in Mason, Mich., is the 2021 Commercial Dry Feed Facility of the Year. The annual award, sponsored by the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA) in partnership with Feedstuffs, was announced during the AFIA Education Program on Jan. 26 at the International Production & Processing Expo (IPPE) in Atlanta.

Gary Huddleston, director of feed manufacturing and regulatory affairs at the AFIA, presented the facility’s leadership with the award.

“Kent Nutrition Group’s Mason plant prides itself not only on excellent customer service, but also in delivering 19,000 tons of high-quality feed for several livestock species throughout the Midwest,” Huddleston said. “With low staff turnover and great teamwork, this facility has made improvements that have led to greater production efficiency and safety of its products.” 

In 2018, as part of a recent initiative to improve production efficiency and ensure product safety, the company upgraded its mixing system from the Aceco system, which had been in operation since 1989, to the new, more precise Repete Mixing System. The new system has allowed the plant to streamline its mixing process and put in place safeguards to reduce opportunities for human error, such as proceeding with a manufacturing run if the sequencing and flushing procedures are not properly followed.

Dave Earl, plant manager at Mason, said the system allows Kent Nutrition Group to stack runs seamlessly and has extensive lot tracking and traceability capabilities, allowing each ingredient to be traced back to the original supplier’s lot code, a valuable tool in everyday operations. 

“With less downtime between runs, our team gets more production out of our workday,” Earl said. “We are able to produce our quality Kent products more effectively and efficiently, creating near perfect products every time, on time. Being named the AFIA 2021 Commercial Dry Feed Facility of the Year award winner is a great honor and recognition of our team’s efforts to continually improve.” 

The Mason facility has 11 employees and produces about 80% of its feed products in bulk while bagging the other 20%.

Kent Nutrition Group is a division of Kent Corp., a family-owned company based in Muscatine, Iowa with a history of innovation in animal nutrition, food, beverage and personal care ingredients, agriculture, and pet care. Kent Nutrition Group manufactures nutrition products for everything from livestock to small animals. 

Other semifinalists in the Commercial Dry Feed category were Kent Nutrition Group’s plants in Marshall, Mo. and Logansport, Ind., and ProTrition Feed’s plant in LaVeregne, Tenn. Other award winners announced in the category were:

  • Highest Safety Score: Kent Nutrition Group in Bow, N.H.
  • Highest Quality and Food Safety Score: Kent Nutrition Group in Sheldon, Iowa
  • Highest Productivity and Efficiency Score: Western Milling in Goshen, Calif.
  • Highest Sustainability Score: MFA in Lebanon, Mo.

The AFIA has been recognizing excellent feed manufacturing facilities through the Feed Facility of the Year program since 1985, with 2021 marking the first year the association began issuing top industry awards to facilities in four categories: commercial dry, liquid feed, premix and ingredient, and integrator.

In recent years, finalists were announced in the four categories at the IPPE, and an overall winner was selected from that group. No awards were given in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced the cancellation of the 2021 IPPE.

This year, the AFIA decided to do away with the overall winner and present “top awards” in each category and present them at industry events that are most relevant to the specific category. For example, the 2021 Liquid Feed Facility of the Year award was presented to PerforMix Nutrition Systems, Rupert, Idaho at the AFIA Liquid Feed Symposium in Chicago last September. The 2021 Integrator Feed Facility of the Year award will be presented at the US Poultry Feed Mill Management Seminar in Nashville, Tenn., and the Premix Manufacturer of the Year will be announced at the AFIA Purchasing and Ingredient Suppliers Conference in San Francisco.

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