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Collaborating for mutual growth, stability

Tennessee Farmers Cooperative and Purina Animal Nutrition announce the formation of ProTrition joint venture
Story by Glen Liford 7/29/2021


ProTrition Feed will bring together the respected brands of Co-op Feeds, Purina Animal Nutrition, Cumberland Mills, and Triple Crown to offer customers a complete portfolio no matter the species of animal. Additionally, the company will offer animal health products to round out its animal care offerings.
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Tennessee Farmers Cooperative (TFC) and Purina Animal Nutrition, a division of Land O’Lakes, Inc. have announced the formation of ProTrition Feed, LLC, a joint venture company supplying feed, premixes, minerals, pet foods, and other nutritional and animal health products. ProTrition brings together the feed manufacturing resources and purchasing, formulation, support, sales, and service teams from the legacy companies (TFC and Purina) to better serve livestock producers within ProTrition’s geography. The company’s trade area will encompass Tennessee and Kentucky along with areas where member Co-ops of the Tennessee system currently have a retail presence in other states and associate member cooperatives.

The company will be governed by a six-member board of directors with equal representation from TFC and Purina Animal Nutrition and will be headquartered in La Vergne, Tenn. The board has selected Joe Huffine, a 33-year veteran of TFC’s Co-op system, as the JV’s CEO. Huffine will be leading the organization’s daily business operations and will be responsible for assembling the management team. 

“I couldn’t be more excited and hopeful about this joint venture,” says Huffine. “Anytime Co-op can be involved in a process that results in better products and improved services for our farmer members, that’s something to be proud of.”

ProTrition is the third and final component of the TFC Board’s plan to pursue strategic alliances to better position the business for future growth and stability through the formation of joint venture companies. Faithway Alliance was established Aug. 1, 2020, to provide customers with farm hardware, fencing, automotive, horticulture, home goods, and lawn and garden products. GreenPoint Ag was established Sept. 1, 2020, and encompasses $1 billion in wholesale and retail sales, making it among the top seven largest agronomy distribution companies in the nation.

ProTrition will feature brands and products that livestock producers throughout the trade area will recognize immediately: Purina Animal Nutrition, Co-op Feeds and Minerals, Triple Crown, and Cumberland Mills Feeds. These feeds will be sold exclusively by ProTrition retail partners in the trade area. Co-op Feeds and Minerals will be sold only at member Co-ops, cooperatives, and contract patrons of TFC. These stores will have the option of adding the Purina Animal Nutrition, Triple Crown, and Cumberland Mills Feed products if they do not currently offer those lines. Current independent dealers will continue to have access to Purina Animal Nutrition, Triple Crown, and now Cumberland Mills products. In addition, a complete line of over-the-counter (OTC) animal health and prescription drugs will be available through ProTrition Animal Health.

“Livestock producers will ultimately have more choices because of this collaboration,” says Huffine. “Customers can have confidence in the continued quality of all these brands as we collaborate to better serve them.”

A single ProTrition sales team trained across all product lines and categories will be positioned strategically in the trade area, and those employees will work with each retail location to help identify the right mix of products for each store. They will also be available to consult with customers as needed.

Efficiencies and benefits will be gained in a number of areas through this venture, including business operations, environmental health and safety, training, ingredient purchasing, marketing, employee talent, research, and manufacturing.

Both legacy companies bring a great depth of nutritional expertise to ProTrition. Products will continue to utilize research from the Purina Animal Nutrition Center in Gray Summit, Mo., and from Cooperative Research Farms (CRF), an international partnership of prominent feed manufacturers of which TFC has been a member for more than 55 years. Current nutritionists from the legacy companies will continue to work on behalf of ProTrition.

“We will gain efficiency through consolidating some SKUs — both from manufactured products and specific ingredients — buying and reselling products like salt, beet pulp, and alfalfa pellets, and providing dealers with a single source for these items,” says Huffine. “We will maintain the best-selling rations for all our retailers.”

ProTrition will operate four feed manufacturing facilities in Tennessee: the three mills previously operated by TFC at Jackson, La Vergne, and Rockford, and Purina’s mill in Nashville. These facilities will be leased from the legacy companies. The Nashville mill will be devoted to the production of non-ionophore feeds to add an additional level of safety for ionophore sensitive species. Additions at all mills will allow for growth and value to our customers. As an example, the Tenco feed mill at Rockford will be expanded to have a devoted mineral manufacturing line for Purina Animal Nutrition and Co-op minerals.

Additionally, ProTrition’s goal is to work with all customers within the trade area for mutual benefit in growing their bulk and bagged feed sales.

“This JV will allow us to maximize production at all four mills by working together,” says Huffine. “By adding technologies and assets, we will gain efficiencies and expanded production runs. This will allow us to capitalize on the best use of our investments.”

The new company began operation Aug. 1, 2021. Transition of IT (information technology) and mill operations will continue throughout the fall with the goal of completing the process in 2022. Legacy company employees currently involved with feed products in the trade area became part of ProTrition on Aug. 1. 

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