It’s not by chance that Dibaq has chosen the name Naturally Better for its latest and most representative branded line of premium petfood. That is also the spot-on slogan for the entire company, summarizing its major values and goals: staying natural and striving for constant improvement.
From its base in Spain, Dibaq is today a large group present in more than 50 countries across four continents, but deeply rooted in its original land and close to the rural environment from where it comes and still obtains a great portion of its raw materials. The company was established in 1951 in Fuentepelayo, a village with just under 1,000 inhabitants in the area of Segovia, where Dibaq’s headquarters are located.
It all started as a local family business in farming (poultry and swine) and feed production, initially for its own use. In the 1980s, thanks to the initiative of current president Carlos Tejedor, son of the founder, the company decided to bet on aquaculture. This, “through a lot of work and big investments, led first to the building of a dedicated facility with very advanced equipment and technology for the times and soon after to diversify further and catch the chance to enter and succeed in the then blossoming petfood industry,” Tejedor explains.
At present, these two activities—aquaculture and petfood—constitute the core business of the group, “with the same common ground: origin, passion and specialization in animal nutrition as we continuously strive to support animals’ healthy lifestyle and provide maximum benefits while respecting their needs,” Tejedor says.
With the pet care division in particular, this effort is well documented by the intense activity of Dibaq’s R&D department, committed to designing diet programs and solutions. The commitment is key to the overall success and leading position of the company. Considerable budgets are invested in innovation projects every year, often conducted in cooperation with experts from recognized universities or research centers worldwide.
During product development and after products are developed and on the market, Dibaq carefully monitors the quality and level of many parameters of its dog and cat foods, such as palatability, digestibility, functional properties and benefits to pets’ coats, vitality and overall health. This is possible thanks to a special partnership with the Integral Centre of Adoption of Animals of the Community of Madrid (known as CIAAM in Spain) and through the company’s own facility in the Czech Republic.
In the first case, Dibaq provides food for the dogs and cats housed in the centre—an aid and refuge shelter for stray and abandoned animals—and has the opportunity to perform controlled, paneled tests of its petfoods. The centre can host over 250 dogs and cats, with all the veterinary means to meet the needs of the animals. It also holds lectures and training courses to promote responsible pet ownership and protection of companion animals. All Dibaq activities in the centre are performed under close collaboration between the company’s R&D and Innovation departments and the technicians and workers of CIAAM, along with the support and involvement of the University of Veterinary Medicine of Madrid.
Dibaq also studies the benefits and quality of its products at its own Fitmin Breeding Station, established in 2002 by the Czech partner Fitmin. The partnership began in 2001 through a joint venture; Dibaq took over 100% of the shares in 2007.
The benefits for Dibaq and the breeding station are mutual. Dibaq’s involvement ensures a high standard of breeding; in turn, the company uses the services of the station in testing its foods. To achieve a highly objective evaluation, the dogs are fed and cared for in a fashion similar to many households, with a lot of outdoor time, affection and interaction with people. Children from a local cynology club and students working on their graduation theses at the station help socialize and interact with the animals.
The merger with Fitmin in 2007 has been one of many steps in Dibaq’s impressive growth, both domestic and, since 1989, increasingly international. Export sales now account for more than 50% of the total turnover of the group, with production including:
- Dry petfood in the Spain, Czech and Mexico facilities;
- Wet petfood in the Spain factory;
- An average of 40% branded products; and
- 60% private label products.
The percentage of distribution between branded and private label petfoods varies depending on the country, Tejedor says. “For example, in Mexico we sell 100% of our brands, in the Czech Republic about 90%, while in Spain we are around 35%.”
Another important and unique element is the wide range of synergistic, supporting functions the Dibaq group has put in place to sustain and increase its business. In petfood, the supporting activities or divisions include:
- Petplanet, a chain of pet specialty stores, for direct service to the final consumer;
- Tejedor Dibaq, a shipping and logistics company; and
- Ditech, manufacturing technology/extrusion equipment.
The close cooperation between Dibaq and Ditech in the area of machinery and equipment is greatly beneficial. Ditech provides continuous maintenance of all the equipment supplied to Dibaq and at the same time has the opportunity to test, evaluate and constantly improve its equipment under the conditions of actual, continuous operation. Ditech operates not only in the area of conventional machinery and equipment but also in designing and manufacturing purpose-specific machinery.