Hill’s Pet Nutrition, the US-based pet-food business, is expanding in Europe.

The business, owned by toothpaste giant Colgate-Palmolive, has bought a manufacturing facility from Italy’s Nutriamo. Financial terms were not disclosed.

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“This acquisition represents an important step in our global supply chain strategy to continue meeting the growing demand by pet parents for our science-based nutrition,” John Hazlin, the president and CEO of Hill’s Pet Nutrition, said. “We will move quickly to increase our capacity to produce canned food and the volume will grow over time as we are able to manufacture more of our products in the facility.”

On Friday (29 April), Colgate-Palmolive announced its first-quarter financial results – and announced the Nutriamo deal.

“That is going to unlock more wet capacity for us, which is one of the fastest-growing segments, particularly in Europe,” Colgate-Palmolive CEO Noel Wallace said.

The group did not provide detailed sales figures by business unit for the three-month period but said Hill’s Pet Nutrition “delivered another excellent quarter”.

“Net sales and organic sales up at least mid-single-digits in all hubs except Australia, where supply chain disruptions impacted volumes,” Colgate-Palmolive said of its Hill’s Pet Nutrition business. “In the United States, volume was up high-single-digits.”

In 2021, Hill’s Pet Nutrition’s net sales were US$3.31bn, up 15% on a year earlier, or by 13.5% on an organic basis. The division accounted for 19% of Colgate-Palmolive’s total net sales in 2021. In 2019, that portion stood at 16%.

Operating profit from the business unit reached $901m in 2021, 14% higher than in 2020.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition markets pet foods mainly under two brands. Hill’s Science Diet, which is called Hill’s Science Plan in Europe, is a range of products for what Colgate Palmolive calls “everyday nutritional needs”. Hill’s Prescription Diet is a line of “therapeutic products to help nutritionally manage disease conditions in dogs and cats”.

Last year, the company announced plans to build a new factory in the US – in Kansas – and expand another in Indiana.

Hill’s Pet Nutrition also set out a project to create meat proteins for pet food via fermentation with Bond Pet Foods, a start-up in the nascent area.