Whitney Closes C.J. Foods Add-On

C.J. Foods, a maker of specialty dry pet food for US super-premium brands, has closed its acquisition of pet food maker American Nutrition. C.J. Foods has been a portfolio company of J. H. Whitney Capital Partners since June 2014.

American Nutrition (ANI) is one of the nation’s largest manufacturers of super-premium quality dry, canned and baked pet food and treat products. The company operates five manufacturing facilities in Washington, Utah and Pennsylvania with over 400 employees serving numerous national brands as well as international brands in 17 countries worldwide. Ogden, Utah-based ANI was founded in 1972 by Jack Behnken and is a second-generation family-owned company.

C.J. Foods is a custom manufacturer of dry pet foods for dogs, cats, and other household pets for more than 40 of the top US super-premium and ultra-premium brands. The company offers services that include product consulting and development, materials management, customized production and packaging, quality control, and managed inventory.

C.J. Foods employs more than 400 people at its six processing plants — two in Pawnee City, Nebraska; two in Bern, Kansas; one in Baxter Springs, Kansas; and one in Brownwood, Texas — with a combined total of 620,000 sq. ft. of plant space from which the company produces nearly half a billion pounds per year of extruded pet foods and treats. C.J. Foods was founded in 1985 by the husband and wife team of Chuck and Joyce Kuenzi and is headquartered in Bern, Kansas.

The combination of C.J. Foods and ANI creates the largest independent manufacturer of super premium pet food in the country, producing over one billion pounds of pet food annually. “Completing this transaction in a time of uncertainty speaks to the strength of the industry as well as these two world-class manufacturers,” said David McLain, CEO, C.J. Foods. “The combined organization will deliver an unparalleled national footprint and broad product portfolio with a focus on delivering products of the future through innovation and category leadership.”

The buy of ANI is the second add-on for C.J. Foods under J. H. Whitney ownership and follows the April 2018 buy of Lortscher Animal Nutrition, a multi-facility and Bern, Kansas-based custom miller and ingredient supplier to the pet food industry.

J.H. Whitney invests from $25 million to $200 million in companies that have from $50 million to $500 million in revenue. Sectors of interest include consumer, healthcare, and specialty manufacturing. The firm was founded in 1946 and is based in New Canaan, Connecticut.

© 2020 Private Equity Professional | March 20, 2020

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