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C.J. Foods to acquire American Nutrition

Transaction creates largest independent manufacturer of super-premium pet food in U.S., producing 1 billion lb. annually.

C.J. Foods Inc. (CJF) a custom manufacturer of specialty dry pet food for leading U.S. super-premium brands, announced Feb. 17 an agreement to acquire American Nutrition Inc. (ANI), a leading supplier of super-premium dry, canned and baked pet food products and treats.

According to CJF, this transaction creates the largest independent manufacturer of super-premium pet food in the U.S., producing a total of 1 billion lb. of pet food annually. The transaction is expected to close by April.

The ANI acquisition will enable CJF to offer a full portfolio of pet food and treats with national and international distribution, the announcement said.

CJF chief executive officer David McLain will join the board of directors, while Tod Morgan will remain chairman of the board and Bill Behnken, current ANI president and CEO, will serve as a board member.

“This acquisition creates the leading manufacturer of super-premium pet food with a national footprint -- focused on producing and delivering the highest-quality products to our customers,” Morgan said.

CJF noted that it has a 35-year history in super-premium pet food manufacturing and has a wide range of international capabilities serving leading super-premium brand owners and retailers.

“C.J. Foods and ANI are two world-class manufacturers with complementary capabilities that make the combination a win for our customers,” Behnken said. “It truly enhances our ability to provide higher levels of innovation to meet the ever-evolving opportunities in premium pet nutrition.”

CJF is a portfolio company of J.H. Whitney Capital Partners, a Connecticut-based private equity firm.

Founded in 1985 by Chuck and Joyce Kuenzi, CJF currently serves more than 40 leading super-premium brands selling into the U.S. and international markets and employs more than 400 people with campuses in Pawnee City, Neb.; Bern and Baxter Springs, Kan., and Brownwood, Texas.

The portfolio includes Lortscher Animal Nutrition, a leader of custom milling and ingredient supply to the pet food industry for more than 60 years, which was acquired in April 2018.

Founded in 1972 by Jack Behnken, ANI is one of the nation’s largest pet food manufacturers specializing in super-premium dry kibble, canned treats and baked treats. It has five state-of-the-art manufacturing facilities in Washington, Utah and Pennsylvania, with more than 400 employees serving numerous national brands as well as international brands in 17 countries.

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