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Pet Food Company Opens $60M Packaging Plant

It’s located in Emporia, KS.

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Simmons Pet Food Inc., a supplier of custom and private label pet food solutions in the U.S. and Canada, opened its new $60 million Flexible Packaging Facility in Emporia, KS, with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

The investment brings approximately 100 new jobs, with the potential for up to 200 new jobs when the facility expansion reaches full capacity, according to a press release from the company. Before the expansion, Simmons Pet Food had about 500 employees at its Emporia location.

“The expansion of our operations in Emporia signals to our customers that we are stepping up our game in a major way,” said Jason Godsey, president of Simmons Pet Food. “We want to build strong and lasting relationships with our customers and flexible packaging is what our customers expect.

“Now we have the capacity and the capability to meet growing market demand and accentuate our leadership in the industry.”

With customer demand for cup, tub and pouch packaging formats projected to grow, the Flexible Packaging Facility strategically positions the company to be the leading supplier of flexible packaging solutions for the domestic market and to compete for new markets internationally.

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By 2022 the Flexible Packaging Facility expansion expects to increase annual facility output to an estimated 9 million cases of wet pet food cups and 2.4 million cases of tubs.

Simmons Pet Food operates three wet pet food production facilities, a dry pet food facility and a treats production facility. These operations are in Northwest Arkansas, Kansas, New Jersey and Ontario, Canada

Since launching in 2017, PETS+ has won 14 major international journalism awards for its publication and website. Contact PETS+'s editors at editor@petsplusmag.com.

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High-Protein Meat-Free Dog Food Debuts at SuperZoo

It incorporates yeast proteins.

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LAS VEGAS — Wild Earth Inc. has launched what it calls “the industry’s first line of high-protein, meat-free dog food” at the SuperZoo Conference in Las Vegas.

The food will be available in independent pet food retailers nationwide starting in September, with United Pacific Pet serving as the exclusive distributor in California, Nevada, Arizona and Hawaii. The product can also be purchased online at https://wildearth.com.

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“The effects of meat production on the environment are well-documented and utterly unsustainable, and pet food is a large part of the problem. The irony is that there is a better way, dogs can thrive on a clean, plant-based diet,” said Wild Earth CEO Ryan Bethencourt. “When we set out to make the healthiest food for our pets and the environment, we knew we had to look past meat. We’re of course also animal lovers, so kind, cruelty-free nutrition that avoids lab animal testing is of utmost importance to us.”

Wild Earth states that its pet food “replaces factory-farmed meat with yeast proteins that provide the 10 essential amino acids that dogs require without the harmful effects of meat production.”

According to a press release:

Wild Earth’s clean protein formula is the industry’s first dog food that uses yeast protein as the main ingredient, a unique, major source of dietary fiber that’s absent in animal meat and highly lacking in conventional dog foods. Thus, the formula provides a clean protein source with an added nutritional boost.

The veterinarian-developed food offers 31% complete proteins in every scoop and a natural umami (meaty) taste that dogs love. By utilizing 100% purposeful ingredients — oats, sweet potatoes, chickpeas, blueberries, pumpkin, spinach — dogs are treated to healthy fibers, vitamins, antioxidants, chloride and potassium. And these sources provide energy, heart health, immune system support, better digestion and nutrient absorption, among other key benefits. There are also no artificial preservatives or flavors and no corn, soy or rice in Wild Earth’s formula.

Wild Earth has secured more than $16 million in funding thus far, including a Series A round led by VegInvest announced earlier this year and $550,000 from Mark Cuban, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and judge on ABC’s “Shark Tank.”

“I invested in Wild Earth because they have the potential to transform the Pet Food industry just like Beyond Meat has transformed the meat industry,” said Cuban. “The release of their first flagship product, a clean, high protein dog food, is a huge milestone for the whole pet food industry.”

Yeast-based proteins are approved by the Association of American Feed Control Officials and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration as safe for dogs.

“A common misconception is that dogs need animal meat in their diet, but what they truly need is protein. And protein is readily available to dogs from a variety of plant and fungi-based sources. In fact, many would be surprised to learn that the fungal proteins used by Wild Earth contain more protein per gram than beef,” said Wild Earth Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Ernie Ward.

Representatives from Wild Earth will be available at this year’s SuperZoo conference, booth #565.

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78 Animals Rescued From Fire at Pet Resort

Some pets were treated for smoke inhalation.

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Firefighters rescued 78 animals from a fire at Pet Paradise, a pet resort in Charlottesville, Va., on Sunday.

Dogs and cats were taken to local veterinary clinics in the area to be treated for smoke inhalation, CBS 19 News reported. (Watch a CBS 19 News video about the fire below.)

The Daily Progress reported that about 10 animals were in critical condition. Some animals were being taken to the Greenbrier Emergency Animal Hospital, and some were going to shelters and foster homes.

In a message on its website Monday morning, Pet Paradise Charlottesville stated:

Our management team continues to be focused on ensuring the safety of all the pets at Pet Paradise Charlottesville after this emergency. As of this morning, we have contacted all the owners and notified them of their pets locations. The pets previously reported in critical condition are now in stable condition and being cared for by local veterinary hospitals. We currently have 2 cats and 1 dog that escaped during the emergency last night. Our team members spent the night searching for these pets and our number one priority is locating them and safely returning them to our owners. Our efforts today will be focused on locating these pets.

Firefighters were called to the blaze at about 6:25 p.m. and had extinguished it by 8 p.m. One firefighter was taken to the hospital after suffering heat-related injuries, according to CBS 19.

It’s still unknown what caused the fire.

Watch a news video about the fire:

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$20M Pet Nutrition Facility to Focus on Needs of Small Dogs

It will be home to 80 small dogs under 12 pounds.

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TOPEKA, KS — Hill’s Pet Nutrition held a groundbreaking ceremony for a $20 million, 25,000-square-foot nutrition facility focused on the needs of small dogs, along with a center developed for veterinarian and other pet caregiver engagement.

“Hill’s is excited to announce the expansion of our world-renowned pet nutrition center to focus on the special needs of small dogs and also to enhance our involvement with those who care for pets through the new engagement center,” said Hill’s President Jesper Nordengaard. “We are always investing in research and development to serve the nutritional needs of pets as well as learning from veterinarians, customers and caregivers through their experiences.”

The new Small Paws center will be home to 80 small dogs under 12 pounds who will benefit from nutrition developed to their unique needs. The center will be devoted to exceptional veterinary care and offer indoor and outdoor enrichment activities that the dogs can choose during the day, including an outdoor Bark Park. The engagement center will have dedicated space to host educational seminars and continuing education programs for veterinary students and professionals.

“All around the world, there’s a steady increase in the popularity of small dogs. Our investment in this specialized facility will help us develop food with the taste and aesthetics that small dogs prefer and that works best with their distinctive behaviors and unique physiology,” said Dave Baloga, vice president, science and technology, for Hill’s. “The Small Paws center will allow us to better understand their needs and discover new ways to help them lead happy, healthy lives.”

Today, more than half of dogs in the U.S. are small and miniature, and the percentage is growing, notes Hill’s, which is part of Colgate-Palmolive Co. These small dogs have distinct needs compared to their larger cousins. For example, small stomachs mean they graze throughout the day, rather than eat one or two big meals like larger dogs. And because of their higher mass-specific metabolism, pound for pound, small dogs eat more than big dogs.

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