As Wodonga's Mars pet food factory embarks on its next 50 years, it is facing challenges related to meat and energy.

MEAT sought for pet food in Australia is now being eaten by men and women in Asia.

That increased cost for offal used for premium pet food is one of the key challenges facing Mars Petcare.

“We're starting to compete more and more with the human food chain,” Mars Petcare Australia general manager Barry O’Sullivan said.

“Some of the meat we use in our pet food supply chain here in Australia features in the human food chain in other parts of this region.

“Australian abattoirs are finding now they can get into the human food chain in Asia and that is driving up prices.”

Energy costs are also a concern with a recent 37 per cent increase in Mars Petcare’s power bill threatening to push up retail prices.

“The last thing we want to do is take those costs and pass them on to the consumer, but at a certain point it’s not manageable, it’s not sustainable for us to just absorb a 37 per cent cost increase on something that is such a big part of our overall costs,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

“We never want to pass those on to the consumer, but at some point that may have to be done.”

Despite those demands, Mr O’Sullivan has no doubt the Wodonga factory will continue to prosper.

“I see a really truly bright future for the business in Australia in the next 50 years,” he said.

He pointed to the expansion occurring at the plant.

“If we look over the last three years we've invested $250 million in our network, in our manufacturing sites here in Australia,” Mr O’Sullivan said.

“Specifically this year we'll invest $50 million in completing the extension of our single-serve facility at the plant here, where we produce My Dog and Dine tray products.”

The second line is expected to be fully operational by August-September.

Mars will celebrate its 50th birthday in Australia with a gathering of all employees and partners at next Friday’s Albury Gold Cup.

A documentary Unleashed marking the milestone will be unveiled at an Albury cocktail party hosted by Bondi Vet Chris Brown for past and present associates.

A display of artefacts and photographs will be held at the Wodonga factory. 

A community fundraising bike ride between Mars’ sites in Wodonga and Bathurst is also planned.

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