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Jonathan Knutson, Forum Communications Co., Published October 31 2011

Detroit Lakes pet litter plant expanding

DETROIT LAKES, Minn. – Another 540,000 bushels of Minnesota and North Dakota wheat soon will be ending up in pet litters around the country every year.

Pet Care Systems, which makes Swheat Scoop cat litter from wheat, is expanding its plant here. The expansion will nearly double the plant’s production capacity from about 55,000 bushels to 100,000 bushels of non-food-grade wheat per month.

“We’ve maxed out on our existing capacity and need more space,” said Don Davis, president and chief executive officer of Redwood Falls-based Farmers Union Industries, which owns Pet Care Systems.

The additional space will allow Swheat Scoop to expand its product line. The company wants to get into the private-label business, but it’s premature to give details, Davis said.

Swheat Scoop is sold at stores across the country, including Petco, PetSmart and Target, according to information on the Swheat Scoop website.

The company also makes litter for horses and small animals such as birds, ferrets and rabbits. Swheat Scoop is biodegradable and free of clay, chemicals and fragrances, according to the company website.

Farmers Union Industries is spending $4.25 million on the project, which began in August and is expected to be finished by Jan. 1, Davis said.

It’s expected that the company, which now has 20 employees at the Detroit Lakes plant, will add five jobs through the expansion, he said.

Pet Care Systems was established in 1994 and purchased by Farmers Union Industries in 2004.

The Detroit Lakes company has been hailed for making innovative use of a Minnesota ag product and has received a number of awards.

Wheat farmers in Minnesota are familiar with Swheat Scoop and Pet Care Systems, says Dave Torgerson, executive director of the Minnesota Association of Wheat Growers.

“We’ve watched the company grow. It’s a quiet company, but it’s a real success story,” Torgerson says.

Inforum searchword: agriculture Jonathan Knutson writes for Agweek