The Scoular Co. has completed its new plant to produce freeze-dried protein ingredients that will help pet food manufacturers meet demand for high-quality products.

The ingredient company’s Petsource subsidiary is its first venture in pet food, an example of recent expansion in the market that is flourishing as people increasingly treat their dogs and cats as family members and want better quality food for them.

Scoular partnered on the $50 million, 105,000-sq.-ft. greenfield project with Gray, a fully integrated service provider specializing in engineering, design and construction.

The facility in Seward, Neb., starts operations in October and includes a warehouse, cold storage rooms for raw meat processing, freeze dryers and packaging rooms.

Petsource will develop, procure, freeze-dry and packaging protein ingredients as a contract partner for pet food manufacturers, and the business says it’s among the first in the country to bring these steps together in one facility. The site includes a testing laboratory for creating new ingredients, such as freeze-dried whole organ meats and meat analogue recipes.

“We are excited to drive innovation in the pet food industry and encouraged by our customers’ enthusiasm for the capabilities within our new facility,” Petsource General Manager Amy Patterson says.

The company chose the location in the Seward/Lincoln Regional Rail Campus, about 80 miles from Omaha, in part because of the available labor pool. The plant is expected to create up to 100 jobs.