EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the second in a monthly series dedicated to Farmers Union Industries and its seven businesses. Read the June edition to learn about Central Bi-Products.
At the Global Pet Expo in Orlando, sWheat Scoop complex manager Bob Larson received a glimpse of the future.
“We literally had people from India begging us to do business with them,” he said. “In India, people often have multiple cats in their house. They were really interested in our product.”
The push for all-natural, biodegradable products has gone global. That puts sWheat Scoop — produced by Pet Care Systems in Detroit Lakes, Minn. — in a good position. Pet Care Systems is one of seven businesses owned by Farmers Union Industries, which is partially owned by North Dakota Farmers Union.
Celebrating 25 years in business in 2019, Pet Care Systems uses wheat from local family farms to make environmentally friendly cat litter.
“We are very pleased to purchase 640,000 bushels of wheat every year that’s grown by our local farmers and put it to good use,” Larson said. “We feel we’re an integral part in helping our local farmers succeed with what we run through our facility.”
Once the wheat is received, Larson said it goes through a rigorous process to ensure quality including a specification of 99 percent purity.
“We have pretty stringent standards,” he said. “We monitor the protein, test weight, moisture and dockage for foreign materials. We also have criteria on insects or bugs in our wheat, so receiving is very important.”
The wheat goes through a final cleaning before it is milled into powder. From there, it’s run through a 205-degree steam and pelletized.
“We take those pellets and crumble them,” Larson said. “Then we run them through our Rotex sifters to get the perfect granulation sizes into the final product. Our final product is tested hourly to ensure clump-ability, odor elimination and performance.”
So why does wheat work so well? Larson said it’s all about the process.
“This process activates the natural enzymes in wheat, which eliminates odors in the litter box,” Larson said.
Another great advantage for pet owners is the ability to flush clumps down the toilet. Traditional cat litter is made from clay and doesn’t break down as well.
“It’s wheat, so it disintegrates in the toilet,” Larson said. “Scoop it into the toilet, give it about five minutes and flush it.”
SWheat Scoop is available across the United States. In North Dakota, it can be found in every Target, Petco and PetSmart. Larson said it can also be found at Walmart, Runnings and Mills Fleet Farm. It can also be found in numerous small-town grocery stores across the state.
“We’re working on expanding in the U.S., and we’re well-positioned,” Larson said. “We’re also working on expanding into export markets, and we’ve had a lot of calls from people across the pond to purchase our product.”
– Chris Aarhus, NDFU