Royal Canin: History, Research, Recruitment of Specialists and Sponsorships!

The premium pet food brand Royal Canin originates in France. The company, which is a division of Mars, Inc., investigates the needs of the individual dog and cat breeds in terms of their nutritional composition and the symptoms they experience.

After successfully treating several skins and coat disorders in pets with a cereal-based diet he developed in his garage, French veterinary surgeon Jean Cathary founded the company. It was the first French company to produce dry pet food using an American-made extruder. Production steadily expanded, and distribution grew all over Europe with a focus on breeders. Following its sale to the Guyomarc’h Group in 1972, Royal Canin experienced a period of growth, particularly in the realm of R&D, until its 1990 acquisition by the Paribas Bank. After being acquired by Mars, Incorporated in 2001, the firm was delisted from the Paris Stock Exchange.


The French veterinarian Jean Cathary founded the firm in 1968. He maintained a veterinarian clinic in a small French village, and he was troubled by the prevalence of skin and coat disorders among the pets his clients brought in. Cathy, certain that his cereal-based diet was to blame, cooked up a batch in the garage oven.

In 1968, Cathay registered the diet under the trademark “Royal Canin” after it proved effective in treating the dogs’ stated conditions. He gave up practising veterinary medicine to focus on producing and selling the feed. After importing an extruder from the United States, Royal Canin became the first European company to produce dry pet food.  Breeders and German Shepherd clubs were the primary audiences for the product’s television ads.

Royal Canin was established in 1968 by the French veterinarian Jean Cathary (left).
A larger production was established at Aimargues, and distribution across Europe began in 1970 when the firm became incorporated as “Royal Canin S. A.” A total of forty people worked on the five thousand five hundred tonnes of feed produced each year. Royal Canin Iberica was founded as a wholly-owned subsidiary in Spain. Cathy sold the business to the Guyomarc’h Group in March of 1972. a larger, family-owned firm that focuses exclusively on cattle feed and was established by Jean Guyomarc’h in 1954.

The company flourished throughout Guyomarc’h’s tenure as CEO, especially in terms of R&D. In 1973, a research centre was established in Saint-Nolff, Brittany. New European affiliates were established in the decade leading up to 1982. Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, Germany, and Denmark were among those countries. To accommodate demand from northern European countries, a second facility was established in northern France.

In 1990, Paribas Bank acquired the Guyomarc’h family of businesses.

 After posting a deficit in 1993, Royal Canin was split from the Guyomarc’h company into three other companies in 1994. Although the bank had planned to sell Royal Canin, the company’s chairman convinced the board to instead float it on the Paris stock exchange in 1997.  The IPO increased the company’s value to 4.5 billion Swiss francs from its previous level of 4.5 billion francs, as 43 per cent of the business was made public. More money coming in allowed for the purchase of Crown Pet Foods in 1999 and the James Wellbeloved brand in 2000.

During the month of July 2001, the bank made a deal with Mars, Incorporated to sell its stake in the company to the corporation for more than 1.5 billion euros. Goodwill accounted for about 93% of the whole sum. The European Commission approved Mars’s acquisition of Royal Canin only after the latter sold off some of its assets to the Spanish firm Agrolimen.  Following Mars’ acquisition of Royal Canin, the company was delisted from major exchanges.

Veterinary-grade food manufacturers IVD, Medi-Cal, and Techni-Cal were purchased by Royal Canin from Del Monte Foods in the United States and Canada in March 2004 for a total of $82.5 million.

The company’s products were among those recalled in 2007 along with a number of other popular brands of pet food. Royal Canin has not issued any further Class I, II, or III recalls, according to the FDA’s records as of 30 April 2012.

Roughly 80% of Royal Canin’s 1.5 billion euro in 2008 revenue came from sales outside of France. About 4,500 people were engaged in various capacities across the globe.


Because of its commitment to scientific research in feed production, Royal Canin opened its first research centre in St-Nolff in 1973, followed by another in Missouri in the late ’80s, and a third in Brazil in the ’90s. A “focus group” consisting of 80 felines and 250 canines evaluate new products. Researchers like Daniel Cloche, who was called “one of the pioneers in researching bone-related problems and diseases among dogs,” were among the first to work at the company’s French research facility. Dietary factors have been linked to bone issues in large dogs, thus numerous recipes have been devised to treat this. Royal Canin introduced a new puppy food in 1980 named AGR, which targeted large-breed canines. It was around that time that the company started making special cat food for those with allergies.

Royal Canin
Royal Canin

During the 1990s, when Henri Lagarde served as chairman of the board, he oversaw the adoption of three core initiatives. First, the organisation needs to broaden its expertise by learning more about the physiology and biology of pets. Second, the R&D department was under strict orders to ensure that “no veterinarian or university should be able to deny any of Royal Canin’s nutritional reasons,” meaning that each product had to meet a specific requirement. Finally, instead of humanising animals, we should treat them with “knowledge and respect” when it comes to their dietary needs.  ‘Knowledge and respect’ became the company’s mantra.

Veterinary and peer-reviewed journals

The company collaborates with academics to publish breed encyclopaedias for both cats and dogs, and these works have been translated into fifteen languages so far. Books and magazines for breeders and veterinarians include topics including breeding and nutrition. With a readership of over 70,000 veterinarians in over 11 languages, Royal Canin also distributed a scientific quarterly titled FOCUS. The magazine formerly known as FOCUS has been rebranded as Veterinary Focus. There are now 1,450 pieces of veterinary literature available thanks to the efforts of the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition.

Recruitment of specialists and sponsorships

Lagarde decided in 1994 that she wanted the corporation to be perceived as working with “specialists.” After his insistence, all occurrences of the word “traditional” were erased from the company’s records and all digital files were updated to use the word “expert” instead.

Teams of skilled veterinary technicians are available to assist and advise professionals in the field. The company came up with the term “pyrotechnicians” to describe its teams of trained salespeople, many of whom had extensive experience in the canine industry (for example, as show judges or as breeders with a global reputation).  The business also supports and attends hundreds of canine and feline competitions annually.  The corporation was reported to be growing its sponsorship of dog shows despite dropping support for the UK Contest of Champions in 2009.

An international animal rights organisation called Four Paws claimed that Royal Canin funded unlawful bear-baiting in Ukraine in 2013.

 The company acknowledged the allegations and stated that it will cease supporting unlawful activities.  The corporation then agreed to fund the rescue of exploited bears and started talking to the organisation about how to implement the idea.


Located in the southern French town of Aimargues lies Royal Canin’s headquarters.  In addition to Aimargues, there are eleven other production sites across the globe: Cambrai, in northern France; Johannesburg, South Africa; Descalvado, Brazil; and González Catán, close to Buenos Aires, Argentina.

Production in the Rolla, Missouri, facility is limited to dry pet food. In 2005, Royal Canin was penalised for “violating the Clean Water Act” at this location.

Near Moscow, in the Russian city of Dmitrov, a manufacturing facility started in 2004. Royal Canin invested 12,000,000 EUR in the factory’s development and planned yearly production of 22,000 metric tonnes.

The Polish government announced in February 2006 that a plant worth 50 million euros will be built in Niepomice, Poland, eventually employing more than 150 people. The announcement referred to it as “the ninth and most modern of all of those which belong to the corporation” due to the inclusion of a laboratory within the plan.

In December 2007, the company finally launched its first UK location in Castle Cary, a suburb of Bristol. The anticipated annual output was 2,000 tonnes, and the workforce size was 80 people. Some residents voiced their disapproval, however, the majority were supportive of the new building.  After production began, there were reports of an “unbearable odour” to the Environment Agency. The corporation spent one million pounds on new condensers and carbon filters to try to fix the issue.

Seventy-three million dollars were spent in 2008 by the corporation to build a facility in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Mars acquired a plant in North Sioux City, South Dakota, USA, in 2007. At the time, it was producing goods for the Mars Petcare brand. Since 2011, when the company renamed itself Royal Canin, it has been producing both wet and dry pet food under the new name.

The Shanghai, China location is Royal Canin’s tenth manufacturing plant, and it was completed at the end of 2009. Fremont, Nebraska, joined the map in 2016, while Lebanon, Tennessee, joined a year later. South Korea’s Gimje, North Jeolla Province, is home to a brand new factory that started operations in 2017.

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