Virbac invests in new pet food factory as pets increase

Pet populations in Europe continue to rise, increasing market demand for Virbac’s pet food and other products and creating the need for a new factory.

Virbac’s pet food offerings include its Veterinary HPM Pet Nutrition line.
Virbac’s pet food offerings include its Veterinary HPM Pet Nutrition line.
Courtesy Virbac

French animal nutrition and medication maker Virbac has unveiled plans to ramp up its production capacities by moving to a new factory in Saint-Gilles, in the country’s southern region of Occitania. Under the plan, the company is to invest between €40 million (US$42.3 million) and €50 million (US$52.9 million) in Saint-Gilles and launch the new plant at the end of 2025, according to senior company representatives.

“The 70 employees who currently work at the factory in Vauvert will, of course, keep their jobs,” Olivier Elfassy, Virbac’s market unit director for pet food and pet care, told local radio broadcaster France Bleu Gard Lozère. 

The manager said the company’s expansion project in southern France is related to the observed rapid development of Europe’s pet food markets, with some countries’ dog and cat populations rising by 15 to 20% over the past few years. 

Virbac has benefited from these markets’ growth, increasing its annual sales to more than €1.216 billion (US$1.294 billion) in 2022, up 14.3% compared with a year earlier, according to data released by the business. In 2021, the company generated about 59% of its revenues within the pet food and medication segment, and the remaining 41% within the farm animal segment.

Expanding R&D, global pet food sales

Last year, Virbac entered the U.S. pet food market with the launch of its Veterinary HPM Pet Nutrition products. In 2023, the manufacturer aims to further boost its global sales by investing as much as €100 million (US$106.4 million) in developing its capacities, Virbac said in a statement.

“As we continue to execute our 2030 strategic plan, we have made the decision to continue accelerating in 2023 on two key dimensions: R&D and investments,” the statement read. “In order to maximize the long-term value of our particularly rich portfolio of R&D projects and in line with our strategic priorities, we intend to increase our investment in R&D in 2023 to approximately 8.5% of our turnover.

“To support Virbac’s growth and to increase our productivity in the medium term, we intend to increase our investments in 2023 to around €100 million (US$106.4 million),” the statement continued. “This will include possible one-off land investments of €20 to 25 million (US$21.3 million to $26.6 million), which will allow us to expand our footprint in France in order to prepare the development of our operations for the coming decades.”

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