This company has led the pack in raw pet food manufacturing with ingredient, product safety and sustainability innovations.
After being one of the first USDA meat manufacturing facilities to produce raw frozen pet food under the same stringent USDA guidelines set for human food, Northwest Naturals has continued to embrace other innovations in the pet food space that include food safety technologies, freeze-drying, sustainability initiatives and solar energy.
Across two locations sitting five miles apart in Portland, Northwest Naturals has 165,000 square feet of manufacturing space and one of the largest privately owned rooftop solar installations in the Portland metro. One building is 90,000 square feet and the other is approximately 75,000 square feet. The rooftop solar installation added 1.2 megawatts of electricity to the facility’s existing 9,000 amps of 480-volt power.
Pictured here is Co-Owner Steven Morasch posing with the solar installation on the rooftop of one of Northwest Naturals’ facilities.
Northwest Naturals believes a raw food diet offers the right nutrition and delivers that nutrition in a more beneficial way. Today, Northwest Naturals manufactures raw frozen pet diets for both dogs and cats, as well as raw frozen beef bones and chicken, duck and turkey necks. The company also manufactures a full line of freeze-dried pet foods and single-ingredient treats.
In 2009, the Morasch brothers purchased their first Avure 100-litre HPP machine and set up a subsidiary company called Pressure Safe that is part of the JBT/Avure tolling network in the Pacific Northwest. The company doesn’t currently provide HPP services for other companies because they are too busy with their own products.
Northwest Naturals uses the acronym HPCP because they use chilled water in their high-pressure, cold processing machines. For both raw frozen and freeze-dried formulations, recipes are first blended, then bulk packaged for HPCP, and afterward formed and individually quick frozen (IQF) to preserve product integrity. Some formulas are then freeze dried.
Northwest Naturals added freeze drying to its manufacturing capabilities in 2012. Morasch Meats had been a raw ingredient supplier for decades to one of the largest freeze-drying operations in the country. When that freeze dryer stopped producing pet products to focus on human food products, Northwest Naturals stepped in and filled the need in the pet food market.
Freeze-dried products offer the convenience of being shelf stable, but Co-Owner Steven Morasch said the better product for the pets’ overall health is the raw frozen due to the moisture in the products. However, the distribution and the logistics challenges for frozen products are serious and compounded in today’s markets, making freeze-dried products an important component in the retail marketplace.
All Northwest Naturals products are made in house from beginning to end in the same facilities that manufacture products for Morasch Meats. Co-owner Morasch is particularly proud of the quality of ingredients used for the company’s pet food products.
“Our procedures for training our employees are the same in the pet food operation as they are for the human food operation,” Morasch said. “We don’t treat the pet [products] differently than the others. It’s a different label but it’s out of a USDA facility.”
The company conducts third-party quality testing as part of its hold and release food safety program. It also has its own internal lab that matches the labs used by the USDA for the agency’s meat processing labs around the country. Northwest Naturals’ quality control personnel are certified annually to operate the company’s internal lab.
The company runs two shifts of production under USDA as well as two shifts of production for pet food. As demand for products has continued to grow, the company has added more processing equipment, packaging machinery and a second HPP machine.
Northwest Naturals shared it has experienced tremendous growth over the past several years and sales activity for the beginning of 2022 was up 200% over the same period in 2021.
Recent Northwest Naturals product additions have included new 28-oz bags of freeze-dried products and a new beef and trout recipe for both dogs and cats offered in raw frozen and freeze-dried formats. The company has also added a unique two-way display box that can be presented vertically or horizontally with labeling in both directions. Coming out this spring, Northwest Naturals will introduce new functional powders in three different two-ingredient recipes.