The facility is only one of a few in the Midwest offering premix services and private label organic services, said the company.
The first organic product from the new facility is a poultry feed for laying hens.
The goal of increasing organic production is to serve an under represented market and meet customer demands, said Jos Zamzow, COO of Dynamite Marketing, which owns Catalyst. The premix and feed company's facility in Idaho has also completed its organic certification process.
“We had customers asking us for years if we would make an organic product, and, at both facilities, we’d put it off because it is such a lengthy process,” he told FeedNavigator.
There is increasing demand for organic feed now: “Two years ago there would have been almost no interest, but I think there have been enough consumers asking for these products that they [producers] are ready to talk,” he said.
Catalyst will be making organic products predominantly for poultry, dairy and swine, he said.
Prior to starting work on making a section of the Iowa feed mill and premix facility capable of producing organic products, the company had already started the Safe Food/Safe Feed certification program run by the American Feed Industry Association (AFIA), said Zamzow. Although not the same, the organic certification process touches on some similar areas in regard to issues like record keeping.
“You’re required to keep pretty good records on the ingredients and where they’re used, and that’s just good manufacturing practice – that’s a huge piece of what organic certification is.”
Having started on the other certification process helped speed along the organic effort, he said. It took about five months to complete.
“We have seven separate manufacturing lines at that facility,” said Zamzow. “We took the newest manufacturing line, which is in the building but isolated from the others, we [certified] that room and we didn’t have do the entire facility.”
The Iowa site is predominantly doing private mix products for customers, especially in poultry, he said. “We had existing customers and what we’re working on today, they were asking for organic versions of those products,” he added.
As a medium-sized manufacturer in the feed world, adding organic production also helps the company stay competitive, said Zamzow. Catalyst also is maintaining the ability to scale up its organic production as necessary.
“It opens a whole new world for us,” he said. “We found it increasingly difficult to compete with the big facilities because their costs are low.”
The organic products are expected to cover the company’s footprint throughout the Midwest and into the Rocky Mountain region, he said.
“It’s expensive to ship feed and the beauty about Des Moines, [Iowa] is it is in the middle of the agriculture [heartlands].”
Unlike the facility in Iowa, the Idaho facility has been completely certified for organic production, said Zamzow. The process took about 13 months to complete.
The location is generating retail feeds so expansion potential and market coverage is informed by customer interest, he said.
“There weren’t mills making finished organic feed in Idaho,” he said. “They’re really excited, so we’re converting product lines.”
However, it can be a challenge to maintain a supply of organic feed ingredients, said Zamzow. The company has built up a supply chain and continues to get calls from growers looking for an outlet.