Pet food company building new plant in Alta.

Champion Petfoods announced plans May 16 to build a new manufacturing plant in Parkland County west of Edmonton.

The Alberta company manufactures the Acana and Orijen brands of dog and cat food and will expand its capacity to produce kibble, freeze-dried food and pet treats in custom-fitted 400,000 sq. foot kitchens at the new plant. The facility will also have a distribution warehouse and logistics centre.

Estimated cost of the project was not revealed.

In a news release, Champion Petfoods president Frank Burdzy said he expects to break ground at the plant’s 75-acre site in June. It will be built by Gray Construction Canada Co. and is expected to start making product in spring 2019.

About 200 new jobs will be created in the plant. Gray Construction president Stephen Gray said in the news release that more than 95 percent of the more than 300 construction jobs for the plant will be local hires.

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Champion already has a pet food facility in Morinville, Alta., with about 180 employees, which will continue to operate. It also opened a plant in Auburn, Kentucky, in January 2016.

The roots of the company lie in Westlock, Alta., where it began more than 30 years ago as a feed mill that started offering pet food to farmers.

Champion now distributes product in more than 80 countries and promotes what it calls “biologically appropriate” pet food using regional ingredients.

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