Hill's Opens Kansas Pet Food Plant

The new facility will increase the company's production capacity for canned pet food.

Hills Pet N Ribbon Cutting
Hill's Pet Nutrition/PRNewswire

TOPEKA, Kan. — Hill's Pet Nutrition, a division of Colgate-Palmolive and a global leader in science-led nutrition, on Monday announced the grand opening of its newest manufacturing plant in Tonganoxie, Kansas.

Located on more than 80 acres, the 365,000-square-foot, fully designed smart facility will increase the company's production capacity for canned pet food and provide a runway for continued expansion of Hill's Science Diet and Prescription Diet brands.

"It's only appropriate that as we celebrate Hill's 75th anniversary, we are able to unveil the next chapter of smart manufacturing innovation in the pet food industry," said John Hazlin, president and CEO of Hill's Pet Nutrition. "The Hill's Tonganoxie plant helps set the stage for the continued growth of our science-led nutrition, increasing our capacity and our ability to better serve the evolving needs of pets and pet owners in the United States and around the world."

The new Hill's Tonganoxie plant marks a step change in strategic automation and technological advancements in the pet food industry. The new Tonganoxie facility was fully-designed to be "smart" – including:

  • Artificial intelligence to power a digital food safety vigilance system
  • Automation and robotic devices
  • Enhanced food safety systems
  • End-to-end digital process/safety monitoring

The new technology and processes will help to improve speed to market by shortening the production cycle, while also offering long-term flexibility to innovate new formats and products that help deliver on the company's mission to support the health and wellbeing of pets.

Kansas Gov. Laura Kelly, who attended the ribbon cutting ceremony at the plant, said, "This investment by Hill's Pet Nutrition is a testament to my administration's success in creating a pro-business economy, including for the animal health industry. I'm delighted our unique Animal Health Corridor continues to expand, growing our economy and supporting communities like Tonganoxie."

Among the more than 170 varieties of wet pet food the plant will make, it will produce Hill's Prescription Diet k/d, the world-renowned original science-based formula designed for the nutritional management of renal (kidney) conditions, pioneered by Hill's Founder Dr. Mark Morris Sr. in 1948, which marked the launch of the first veterinarian-developed pet food line intended to help manage specific conditions through nutrition. Hill's Prescription Diet k/d was recently upgraded this year with a new proprietary microbiome technology that helps reduce harmful waste products.

"Hill's will utilize technology to work alongside Hill's staff and a new state-of-the-art Mission Control Center to provide unprecedented visibility and monitoring through every aspect of pet food making from ingredient intake to final packaging," said Chad Sharp, director of manufacturing for the Tonganoxie plant. "The production process is an entirely "enclosed system" from ingredient mixing to cooking and container filling – designed to prevent food exposure to environmental contaminants."

While investing in its operations, Hill's Pet Nutrition is committed to making science-led nutritional products in an environmentally responsible manner. The plant has been awarded LEED Gold certification, the first site to achieve that rigorous standard within Colgate-Palmolive. Among other features is a Water Reclamation System that reduces overall water usage by treating and recycling wastewater on-site to be repurposed for future use.

Working in close partnership with the Kansas Department of Commerce, the Leavenworth County Development Corporation, the city of Tonganoxie, Evergy and Kansas Gas Service, Hill's chose the site for its excellent location, access to a talented and diverse pool of workers, a strong and welcoming community and proximity to distributors and suppliers.

The project has created more than 100 jobs in Leavenworth County, Kansas.

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