Nestlé Purina PetCare will acquire a minority shareholding and enter a partnership with Independent Vetcare Group International (IVC Group). IVC Group is a European veterinary services group with a network of more than 1,100 vet clinics and hospitals across ten countries. More than two million pet owners use its practices.
Nestlé´s acquisition of the minority shareholding in IVC Group is subject to regulatory approval. Upon completion, IVC Group will continue to operate as an independent business. No terms of this agreement will be disclosed.
Pet food companies moving into veterinary services
Along with Purina PetCare, the other titan of pet food, Mars Petcare, also has moved into the veterinary services sector.
Although Packaged Facts survey results suggest pet owners tend to trust their veterinarian’s recommendations for dog and cat food, Mars doesn’t use their connection to the veterinary industry to influence purchases, said Maureen Pratt, senior director of strategic business communications for Mars Global Petcare.
“There is naturally a crossover between pet food and veterinary services,” said Maureen Pratt, senior director of strategic business communications for Mars Global Petcare, told Petfood Industry. “However, our number one priority for veterinarians is to provide the best care possible for each individual pet. No restrictions or incentives are placed on veterinarians in businesses owned by Mars to encourage them to recommend or prescribe certain products. We believe that veterinary professionals should make diagnostic, treatment and nutritional decisions based solely on the best interests of their patients.”
Mars Petcare acquisitions in European veterinary services market
Mars Petcare expanded into the European veterinary sector in June with the purchase of AniCura, which operates in Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Austria, Switzerland and The Netherlands, and Linnaeus in the United Kingdom.
“Europe is the second largest region for veterinary care,” Pratt said. “There are 200 million companion animals in Europe, and the development of advanced systems and equipment is rising in line with increased customer awareness of the importance of evidence-based pet care.
“Each market has its own challenges, but the structure of the Mars Petcare business is such that we are well-placed to tackle the challenges in both Europe and North America,” she said.
For the time being, the company hasn’t stated any plans to expand into other regions, such as Asia or Latin America though.
“It’s too early to speculate about how Mars Petcare will be structured in the future,” said Pratt. “For the time being, we are focused on building our presence in Europe, and with Linnaeus and AniCura part of the Mars Petcare family, we are in a great position to do that.”