WILTON, Conn. – Blue Buffalo plans to expand its in-house pet food production and R&D capabilities with a new pet food manufacturing plant in Richmond, Indiana.

The company’s Heartland Pet Food Manufacturing complex will be built on 89 acres. Plans for the new facility include pet food manufacturing capabilities, an R&D facility and an attached warehouse. Construction on the complex is scheduled to begin in the second half of 2016.

“This is a very big day for Blue Buffalo,” Chairman and founder Bill Bishop said in a statement. “This new, state of the art addition to our manufacturing network will complement our facility in [Joplin] Missouri.  We expect to further increase our internal production capacity and now will have two of the most modern manufacturing facilities in the pet food industry.

“Additionally, we plan to open a state of the art R&D facility on our premises,” Bishop said. “We are also very proud of our plan to create over 160 full time jobs and look forward to being an upstanding partner in the Richmond community.”

The company reported adjusted net income of $38 million for the first quarter of 2016, an increase of 23.2 percent over the year-ago period. Net sales were 12.5 percent higher at $280 million.

Blue Buffalo manufactures natural foods and pet treats for dogs and cats under the BLUE Life Protection Formula, BLUE Wilderness, BLUE Basics, BLUE Freedom and BLUE Natural Veterinary Diet brands.