by Stephen Dafoe
Morinville – Champion Petfoods announced Thursday afternoon it would build a third kitchen facility for its product line in Kentucky, allowing its Morinville facility to focus on growing the Canadian, European and Asian markets for their products.
“We’ve got tremendous demands for our products in the marketplace right around the world,” said Champion Petfoods President and CEO, Frank Burdzy in an interview shortly after the announcement was made Thursday afternoon. “Our biggest limiting factor always has been the ability to make enough.”
Champion’s third kitchen will be built in Auburn, Kentucky, a rural location 15 minutes outside Bowling Green, Kentucky. The plant, scheduled to be operational in the first quarter of 2016 will join Champion’s Oakville, Ontario kitchen and their homebase Morinville facility to meet global demand for the product.
Burdzy said the US is Champion’s largest market and that it only made sense to service that market from the United States. “We purchased a piece of farmland and we are starting right from the ground up,” Burdzy said, adding the American facility will begin with two extrusion lines like the Morinville kitchen. “We have a footprint that we will be capable of adding to, but we believe if we start there that will give us a chance to grow into it.”
Champion selected their American location in keeping with their corporate philosophy of using fresh local ingredients. “We did look at several states. We started with about 12 different options and worked down to Kentucky,” Burdzy explained. “In many ways we found the farmers and primary providers are focused on providing a high quality food that will be great for our product.”
More opportunity for Morinville
The decision to set up shop south of the border does not mean a lessening of activities in Morinville where the company began. “It opens up great opportunities for us,” Burdzy said. “Although the United States is our largest market and our fastest growing market, we have markets in Europe and Asia that we service from here that have been wanting much more of our product. Now this gives us a chance to invest more dollars here to get our kitchens up to that one more notch, and it allows us to really hit hard for the Canadian, European and Asian markets from here.”
Champion’s president said the Morinville facility has an advantage in servicing overseas markets because Champion’s Morinville kitchens are one of the few that are fully certified and registered to serve any market in the world. “Even in the United States, there are very few facilities that are able to do that,” Burdzy said.