Wednesday, 19 January, 2022

Why Royal Canin creates the Animal Nutrition Weight Watchers

It’s a bit like the Weight Watchers of feline and canine nutrition that Royal Canin (Mars group) is launching this week. This leader in the petfood industry, alongside Purina (Nestlé group) is taking advantage of the national congress of the French Association of Veterinarians for Companion Animals to announce the creation of a new brand called Royal Canin Individualis.

Beyond the simple marketing effect, this innovation makes it possible, only on veterinary prescription, to offer a suitable diet in its recipe as its daily portion to animals suffering from multiple pathologies (kidney problems associated with bone disorders, or dental problems associated with digestive disorders …). “More than 10,000 recipes are possible. In addition, the animal has its name on the package and its owner has a weighing pan to deliver the daily portion recommended by the veterinarian,” explains Royal Canin CEO Loïc Moutault. It took seven years of research and development for Royal Canin to achieve its goals. “The most complicated thing was to find an economic model by interesting our veterinary partners because the value chain for this type of product is completely reversed. It’s also a digital tour de force, ”explains the manager who hired Pierre-Charles Parsy, a former IBM executive, as vice-president in charge of digital.

Read also –Petfood: what’s in their bowl? A question worth billions

Factories and a dedicated laboratory in the south of France

Technically, a digital platform is made available to the veterinarian who records in a file the weight, the breed, the pathologies of the animal, and the recommended duration of the diet. Data that the manufacturer translates into a recipe proposed to the owner who validates the purchase on the platform. “We don’t know the price set by the vet who is free. The price should however be less than two euros per day for the owner. Invoicing is instantaneous and the order is made to order as quickly as possible in our factories in Aimargues. [dans le Gard, NDLR] and in a dedicated laboratory in the Bouches-du-Rhône “, explains Pierre-Charles Parsy.

Since the early 2000s, the brand has always sought to medicalize its speech. It is therefore a partner of the Institut Curie and participated in a spring colloquium on the detection of cancer by canine odorology. However, Royal Canin remains at a distance from the pharmaceutical industry. “Medicine is another job. Our concern is to bring well-being to the animal. However, food is the first medicine ”, image Loïc Moutault paraphrasing Hippocrate. Thus, to better assert its positioning in this niche, the brand has not been available in supermarkets for nearly 20 years. It has since been found only in veterinary clinics and pet stores (like its direct competitor Proplan Purina) where it offers some 350 different recipes. “Persian cats cannot swallow certain forms of kibble, and boxers do not chew the smallest which affects their digestion and teeth,” say the leaders.

The animal welfare niche market

In order to “give more exclusivity to veterinarians”, Royal Canin has also discreetly developed analysis tools. Last year, she launched blücare. A litter that turns blue if the feline urine is infected. “This allows the master as well as the veterinarian to prevent certain disorders because cats obviously cannot say that they are in pain”, we justify at Royal Canin, which also markets genetic tests.

Of course, like Individualis, these diversifications remain niches. They will weigh little in the revenues of this company (3.5 billion euros last year) founded by the Gard veterinarian Jean Cathary in 1968 and taken over by Mars in 2002. “Return on investment is not the primary driver. on these types of projects. Otherwise, we would have given up ten times in seven years. However, since its inception, the company has been committed to the welfare of the animal on the basis of its observation. It is our very DNA “Says Loïc Moutault. Royal Canin has set itself the target that 1,000 veterinarians, out of the 5,000 in France, have adopted Individualis by next summer.