Royal Canin

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Royal Canin SAS
IndustryPet food
Founded1968; 55 years ago (1968)
Gard, France
HeadquartersAimargues, Gard, France
Area served
Key people
Cécile Coutens (CEO)
ProductsDog food and cat food, animal health products, veterinary products
ParentMars, Incorporated

Royal Canin is a French manufacturer and global supplier of cat and dog food. The company is a subsidiary of Mars, Incorporated. It undertakes research into the specific nutritional needs of dogs and cats.

The company was established by French veterinary surgeon Jean Cathary, after he successfully treated a number of skin and coat conditions in pets by feeding them a cereal-based diet he prepared in his garage. He realized that nutrition was an important part of pets' health.[1] After importing an extruder from the United States, a process used in this industry for the first time in 1956,[2] the company was the first to manufacture dry pet food in France. Aimed primarily at breeders, production steadily increased and distribution extended further into the European market. Royal Canin was sold to the Guyomarc'h Group in 1972, and underwent a further period of expansion, especially in the area of research and development, before being purchased by the Paribas Bank in 1990. The company was floated on the French stock exchange but removed later after it was sold to Mars, Incorporated in 2002.[3][4]


Early history[edit]

The company was established by the French veterinary surgeon Jean Cathary in 1968.[5] He had a veterinary practice in a village in the Gard region of France and was concerned many people's pets were being presented with a variety of health problems, especially skin and coat conditions. Convinced the cause was dietary, Cathary devised a cereal–based recipe, which he prepared in an oven in his garage.[6][7]

The diet successfully alleviated the problems pets were presented with, so in 1968, Cathary registered the food with the trademark “Royal Canin”. He closed his veterinary practice to concentrate on manufacturing and distributing the feed. An extruder was imported from the U.S. and Royal Canin became the first manufacturer of dry pet food in France and the first European company to use an extruder.[7] The target market was primarily breeders and German Shepherd associations; television advertising was used to promote the product.[7]

French Veterinarian Jean Cathary (left) founded Royal Canin in 1968

Production steadily increased and in 1970, the company was incorporated as "Royal Canin S. A."; a larger factory was opened in Aimargues and began distribution throughout Europe. Forty staff were employed in the annual production of five–thousand five hundred tons of feed. A subsidiary, Royal Canin Iberica, was established in Spain. In March 1972, Cathary sold the company to the Guyomarc'h Group,[6][8][9] a much larger, family-run animal feed business founded by Jean Guyomarc’h in 1954, which specialised in livestock feed.[10][a]

In 1972, Royal Canin was sold to the Guyomarc'h Group. The new ownership allowed the company to further undergo a period of expansion, especially in the area of research and development.[11][12] A second factory was inaugurated in 1975 in Cambrai, France.

The period under the ownership of Guyomarc'h saw a marked expansion of the company, particularly in the area of research and development. A dedicated research centre was opened in Saint-Nolff, Brittany, during 1973. Over the ten years up to 1982 additional subsidiaries were also set up in other European countries. These included Italy, Sweden, Belgium, Spain, Germany and Denmark. Another factory was built in northern France to service sales in the countries of the north of Europe.[9] From 1982 onwards, Royal Canin diversified its portfolio to products such as canned food and bird seed and saw its production quadruple to 200,000 tons in 10 years.[12]

The Guyomarc'h group of companies was purchased by the Paribas Bank in 1990.[13] Royal Canin recorded a loss in 1993; the following year the Guyomarc'h group was divided into four separate businesses, one of which remained as Royal Canin. In 1994, a new CEO was appointed and focused on 3 pillars: dry food, health through nutrition and dog-handling expertise.[12][14] The bank wished to sell Royal Canin but its chairman managed to persuade it to list it on the Paris stock exchange instead, which took place in 1997.[15] Forty–three percent of the company was floated on the stock market and it raised the company's valuation to four and half billion francs. The additional revenue raised provided the funding to buy Crown Pet Foods in 1999 and the James Wellbeloved brand in 2000.[6][16][17]

In 1999, Guyomarc'h site was recognized and Royal Canin's activities became autonomous from the other activities of Guyomarc'h site.[18]

Recent history[edit]

The bank sold its holding in the company to Mars, Incorporated in July 2002 for in excess of one and a half billion euros. The majority of this payment, almost ninety–three percent, was for "goodwill". The European Commission only agreed to the takeover by Mars if Royal Canin disposed of some assets to Agrolimen, a Spanish company.[9][19] Royal Canin was removed from the stock exchange listing after the take over by Mars.[20]

In 2002, Mars acquired 40% of Royal Canin's stakes.[21][22] According to the economic daily newspaper Les Echos, it was a marriage between a French SME, European leader, with a powerful global distribution network.[22]

In March 2004, Royal Canin acquired the US and Canadian veterinary-grade food brands IVD, Medi–Cal and Techni–Cal from Del Monte Foods for $82.5 million.[23]

The company was one of the many brands affected by the 2007 pet food recalls. As at 30 April 2012, the FDA had reported no subsequent Class I, II, or III recalls by Royal Canin.[24]

By 2008, as much as eighty percent of Royal Canin's one and a half billion euro revenue was generated from sales outside France. The number of staff employed worldwide was around four thousand five hundred.[25]

In 2012, Royal Canin established one of its logistics platforms in Verdun, France.[26]

In 2018, Royal Canin celebrated its 50th anniversary.[27]

In 2021, Mars announced that it would invest 46 million euros in France, among which 22 million euros dedicated to its French and Global headquarters in Aimargues, France, where the historic plant, a pilot plant and an R&D center are located.[28]

Royal Canin's motto is "A Better World for Pets"[29]

Products and services[edit]

Royal Canin cat food

Royal Canin has about 260 different formulas. The food adapted to each animal,[30] physiology and sensitivities[31] and meets the needs of the dog [32] or cat, exactly according to the firm.

The principle of Royal Canin is 'the health of animals through good nutrition'.[33]


In the UK, Royal Canin is a member of the Pet Food Manufacturers Association (PFMA).[34]

The products are adapted for different digestive capacity and divergent growth periods.[35]

Dog products: Dry dog food and Pouch dog food, etc.

Cat products: Sauce canned cat food, dry cat food, gravy canned food, etc.

Veterinary food[edit]

The company develops several different diet formulas, also for medical prevention and care [36] such as Renal Feline Special for feline urinary,[37] tract health,[38] suitable kibbles for dogs with allergies[39] or digestive disorders.[40]

Some veterinary foods are available through prescription only, such as the Wet Diet brand.[41]

Veterinary products[edit]

Pill Assist, a treat designed to help owners to give medication to their cats by masking tablets and capsules.[42] In some countries, Royal Canin has its own Veterinary Channel.[43]


In collaboration with experts, Royal Canin led in the development of publications such as the Dog's Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia of Canine Clinical Nutrition,[44][45][46] the Royal Canin Cat Encyclopedia, and other books like Nutrition of the pets with the French Veterinary Academia.[47][48][49]


Royal Canin bases the production of its feeds on scientific research[50] and set up its first research centre in St-Nolff in 1973; a subsequent research centre was established in Missouri in the late 1980s, and a research facility was also opened in Brazil. Products are tested non-invasively on a "focus group" of about 500 pets (dogs and cats) selected for the characteristics of their breeds.[51] Daniel Cloche was one of the scientists who first worked at the company's French research facility and was described as "one of the pioneers in researching bone–related disorders and diseases among dogs". Research indicated bone problems in large dogs could be dietary, so different recipes were developed to specifically address this. In 1980, Royal Canin brought out a new feed called AGR, especially for puppies categorised as large breeds. At that time, the company also turned its attention towards producing cat foods to suit specific dietary requirements.[6][9]

Henri Lagarde was chairman of the company during the 1990s, and drove the implementation of three core policies. Firstly, the physiology and biology of pets should be studied to increase the company's knowledge base. Secondly, all products had to address specific needs; this was further endorsed by the Research and Development section having mandatory instructions that "no veterinarian or university should be able to refute any of Royal Canin's nutritional arguments". Finally, animals and their nutritional requirements were to be treated with "knowledge and respect" rather than being humanised.[52] The company theme became "knowledge and respect".[50]

Veterinary and peer-reviewed journals[edit]

With the help of academics, the company also produces encyclopedias about dog and cat breeds, which have been translated into fifteen languages. There are also books on breeding, nutrition and publications aimed at breeders and veterinary surgeons. Royal Canin also published the scientific quarterly titled FOCUS which was circulated to over seventy thousand veterinarians worldwide in eleven different languages. FOCUS is now called Veterinary Focus magazine. This is in addition to the 1,450 veterinary literatures produced for the Waltham Centre for Pet Nutrition.[53][54]


Royal Canin conducted some studies, like the one on the life expectancy of dogs and cats, which shows that due to the progress in veterinary medicine and animal food, dogs and cats live longer.[55][56]

In 2012, Royal Canin participated in a Peer-Reviewed Publication which concluded that diets high in saturated fat are not associated with adverse effects in healthy cats.[57] The same year, another research was conducted by the WALTHAM Centre for Pet Nutrition, provided new insights into dogs' natural feeding.[58]

Royal Canin partners with some veterinarians, employed or not, in studies and medical recommendations.[59][60][61][62][63]

Recruitment of specialists and sponsorships[edit]

In 1994, Lagarde was determined the company should be seen as dealing with "specialists". He insisted that the word "traditional" must never be used and the word was removed from every document and company computer file being replaced by "specialist" instead.[52]

There are teams of trained veterinary technicians to help and advise breeders and other professionals. The company coined a new description for its teams of trained sales staff as "cynotechnicians", who were already well established and passionate about the canine world; some were show judges or had gained an international reputation for their breeding skills.[64]

In 2019, Royal Canin signed an agreement to partner with MAssey University Foundation by offering a scholarship in health nutrition for cats and dogs veterinary science.[65]

Sponsorships and partnership[edit]

The company sponsors and participates in thousands of cat and dog shows each year around the world, like local and regional Canine Club.[66][67] The company withdrew from sponsoring the UK Contest of Champions event in 2009 but was quoted as stating it was increasing its sponsorship of dog shows.[68] In 2010, Royal Canin financed the Subculture Animal Friends association, animal rights activists linked to punk band Subculture which fight animal cruelty.[69]

In 2017, Royal Canin collaborated with an association which promotes the integration of people wih disabilities through sport in the context of Para Skiing Championships in Spain.[70]

In 2013, Four Paws, an international animal welfare group, accused Royal Canin of sponsoring events that included illegal bear-baiting in Ukraine.[71] The company confirmed the allegations[72] and promised to take action to put an end to its sponsorship of such events.[73] Subsequently, the company made a commitment to support the rescue of bears used and began negotiations with the group to determine a detailed project plan.[74][75][76] In July, the company announced that it would fund the constructions of a rescue facility for bears.

In 2022, in the field of healthcare, Royal Canin partnered with PDSA, a UK-veterinary charity, to tackle obesity among pets.[77] The same year, Royal Canin and RACE Foundation renewed their collaboration on the theme of the well-being and safety of animals during travel.[78][79][80]

Factories and logistics[edit]

Royal Canin's head office is in Aimargues, southern France.[81][82] There are sixteen production facilities worldwide,[83][2] in addition to Aimargues including at Cambrai in northern France; Johannesburg, South Africa; Descalvado, Brazil;[81] and González Catán, near Buenos Aires, Argentina.[81]

The plant located in Rolla, Missouri, produces only dry pet feeds.[84] Royal Canin was fined for "violating the Clean Water Act" in 2005 at this site.[85]

In 2004, production facilities at Dmitrov, near Moscow, Russia, opened. Royal Canin committed twelve million euros in the construction of the factory and anticipated annual production of twenty–two thousand tons a year.[81][86]

The Polish government announced construction was to start in February 2006 on a fifty million euro factory in Niepołomice, Poland, which would provide employment for in excess of one hundred fifty staff. At the time of the announcement, it was described as "the ninth and most modern of all of those which belong to the company"; this was because of the laboratory that was to be included in the design.[87][88]

The company's first UK facility, at Castle Cary, near Bristol, opened in December 2007, two years later than expected. Annual production was expected to be two thousand tons, employing eighty staff. Although objections were raised by some local residents, others welcomed the facility.[89] The Environment Agency received complaints of an "unbearable smell" after production started. The company installed carbon filters and a new condenser at a cost of a million pounds in attempts to address the problem.[90][91]

In 2008, the company invested seventy–three million dollars in the construction of a factory at Guelph, Ontario, Canada.[92][93]

A factory at North Sioux City, South Dakota, USA, was originally purchased by Mars in 2007 and worked under the Mars Petcare brand. This was then re-branded to Royal Canin in 2011, where it manufactures wet pet food. [84]

Royal Canin's twelfth production facility was fully built at the end of 2009 and is located in Shanghai, China.[94]

A new plant has been opened in 2017 in South Korea in Gimje, North Jeolla Province.[95]

In 2021, the company announced that it would invest $185 million for its facility in North Sioux City in South Dakota.[96][97] The project aimed at creating 149 new full-time jobs.[98] The same year Royal Canin announced an investment of $200 million to expand its manufacturing facility in Lebanon, Tennessee.[99] The expansion began in 2019.[100]

Corporate information[edit]


Since July 2022, Cécile Coutens has been the new president. She succeeds Loïc Moutault.[101] She is the first woman at the head of Royal Canin.[102][103]

List of chief executive officers[edit]

  • 1972-1994: René Gillain[104]
  • 1994-2004: Henri Lagarde
  • 2004-2007: Alain Guillemin
  • 2007-2014: Jean-Christophe Flatin[105]
  • 2014-2022: Loïc Moutault[106]
  • 2022-present: Cécile Coutens[107]

Royal Canin Foundation[edit]

Founded in 2020,[108] the Royal Canin Foundation aims to reinforce the positive role that domestic animals play in the health and well-being of people[109],with topics such as COVID-19 detection, cancer detection, puppy education and children with autism spectrum disorders.[110][111][112] For example, the foundation partners with Dogpoint in Spain to facilitate access to assistance dogs for children with ASD.[113][114] In France, the foundation supports the France Victimes project and has signed an agreement to finance the deployment of three new local assistance dogs per year by 2025.[115] In Mexico, the Foundation uses a brigade of assistant dogs called BREC K-9 to help with natural catastrophes such as earthquakes.[116][117]


In October 2021, the Royal Canin brand announced its commitment to become carbon neutral certified by 2025[118][119][120] and adhere to the PAS 2060 standard for carbon neutrality.[121] The brand claimed to have begun moving toward carbon neutrality in 2022, by having its first product range carbon-neutral certified. [122][123]

The Royal Canin brand announced that it would carry out the following actions: transitioning to renewable electricity, procuring sustainable ingredients, reducing waste and boosting circularity and implementing climate-smart business transformation.[124][125] For any residual emissions that Royal Canin cannot completely remove or reduce, the brand will invest in high-quality, removal-based certified carbon credits.[122] Royal Canin declares qualifying the carbon footprint of 100% of its raw materials.[126][127] Around 2020, Royal Canin's factories already used 72% of renewable electricity for its factories around the world[128] powered by systems that had been built in the past 20 years.


Royal Canin organizes events related to the pet and industry, such as the Vet Symposium,[129][130] aimed at veterinarians, and the PRO Experts Forum, aimed at breeders.[131]

In popular culture[edit]

A Royal Canin advertisement from the 1980s featured a running German Shepherd in slow motion, set to the instrumental theme "Chi Mai" composed by Ennio Morricone.[132][133] Alain Chabat parodied this advertisement by including a slow-motion chase scene (with "Chi Mai" as the background music) between Idéfix and a legionary in the 2002 film Asterix & Obelix: Mission Cleopatra.[134][135]


In 2013, following a controversy sparked by the support of dog and bear fights by its Ukrainian subsidiary, the company announced its commitment to assisting in the protection of bears in Ukraine.[136][137]

In 2017, the brand was mentioned in a report by France 5, "What Kind of Kibble for Our Pets?" and in the book "Ce Poison Nommé Croquette" by Jérémy Anso, criticizing the quality of products from Hill’s Pet Nutrition and Royal Canin, among others.[138][139][140]


  1. ^ Guyomarc'h changed its name to Evialis at the beginning of 2001.


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