Tillridge-backed nutrition company opens $95m production plant

South Dakota-based Novita Nutrition has begun commercial level production of NovaMeal and NovaOil, its animal nutrition products derived from a corn ethanol-production byproduct.

Novita Nutrition, an animal nutrition business backed by Tillridge Global Agribusiness Partners, has opened its first production facility.

Based in Aurora, South Dakota, the cost of the $95 million plant was split among Tillridge-affiliate NGP Energy Capital and other private equity-backers of Novita including Glacial Lakes Capital and Nordic Ventures, according to the company’s website.

Novita produces a digestible protein for dairy cattle feed under the NovaMeal brand and a renewable oil used in animal feed under the NovaOil brand. Both products use dried distiller’s grains (DDGs), a byproduct of corn ethanol production, as a feedstock.

Novita Nutrition president and chief executive officer Don Endreas told Agri Investor said the company had previously produced its NovaMeal and NovaOil at a smaller scale and that the Aurora facility started commercial-level production in April.

Endres said the plant is capable of processing 1,300 tons of DDGs into 1,200 tons of NovaMeal and 100 tons of NovaOil each day. He explained that by removing unsaturated fat from DDGs, Novita is able to offer a product that improves animal health and lowers farmers’ dairy feed costs.

“People want more animal protein, but that takes a lot more vegetable-based proteins,” he said. “We are delivering not only more protein, but a higher quality protein. We think that’s a great space to be in and we think there’s lots of opportunity to grow over time.”

The original investment in Novita was made by Texas-based NGP Energy Capital Management. In 2015 a number of investment professionals, including the team which had invested in Novita, spun-out from NGP and formed Tillridge Global Agribusiness Partners. Novita is listed among current investments on Tillridge’s website and a market source confirmed to Agri Investor that Tillridge is continuing to help NGP to monitor its investment in Novita.

NGP’s initial investment in Novita was finalized in December 2014 and came from the NGP Global Agribusiness Follow-on Fund, which closed on $402 million in April of that year.

Tillridge is currently in the market with its own fund, Tillridge Global Agribusiness Partners II, which had raised $375.2 million towards its $750 million target as of March, according to a regulatory filing.