MUENSTER, TEXAS — After entering the category with just two custom-built freeze dryers in 2018, Muenster Milling Company has significantly expanded its capacity for freeze-dried pet food production. On March 14, the company announced it had completed a new vertically integrated, nearly 120,000-square-foot facility and warehouse in Denton, Texas, where it will run more than 20 freeze dryers to start.

In addition to these state-of-the-art freeze-dryers, the new plant is also equipped with turnkey retail packaging and raw meat processing capabilities. Muenster will be able to develop and produce a range of protein blends and nutritional profiles, the company said, including 100% freeze-dried meals, functional freeze-dried treats and toppers, and single-ingredient treat products for pets.

Other product opportunities offered by Muenster Milling include kibble plus and freeze-dried plus — adding freeze-dried proteins and vegetable inclusions to a kibble diet — formulations, which combine the company’s more recent expertise in freeze-drying with its legacy in kibble processing. Automated mixing and blending equipment was installed at the new Denton facility specifically to produce these kinds of diets.

“Freeze dried is a versatile product format that can be a meal, functional treat, inclusion, or topper, and it remains one of the fastest growing categories within pet food, experiencing double digit volume growth and $1 billion of sales in 2023,” said Jim Holdrieth, chief executive officer of Muenster Milling. “Many brands are increasingly looking to enter or grow within the category, and they require sophisticated manufacturing partners to help them do so. This new facility has all the capabilities under one roof that brands and retailers need to bring their innovation pipelines to life.”

Recent investments in the company’s in-house R&D and quality departments will support the new facility and Muenster Milling’s own branded product lines, as well as its contract manufacturing and private label customers. For example, the company offers several kill-step options to help brand partners meet their product specs with confidence.

With this new facility, Muenster Milling is poised to formulate and produce a variety of products in different shapes and sizes, with automated packaging equipment able to run sample sizes as small as 1 oz and up to 5 lbs. The plant also provides room for future growth, offering the company availability to add even more freeze-dryers as it grows.

Read more about the company’s venture into the freeze-dried category, as well as its legacy operations, in our exclusive processor profile here.

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